SOUTHAMPTON: Mohammad Rizwan frustrated England with a fine unbeaten fifty on the second day of the second Test at Southampton on Friday.
Pakistan were 215-8 in their first innings when bad light — despite the Ageas Bowl floodlights being on full beam — forced an early tea.
Wicketkeeper Rizwan was 53 not out, his second-highest score in eight career Tests following the 95 he made against Australia in Brisbane in November.
Pakistan were in danger of being dismissed for under 200 at 176-8.
But Mohammad Abbas, two not out off 19 balls at tea, gave Rizwan staunch support in an unbroken stand of 39.
In overcast conditions ideally suited to England’s four-man pace attack, Pakistan did well to get through the hour’s play that was possible in the morning after a rain delay without losing a wicket as they reached lunch on 155-5.
But Babar Azam was dismissed soon afterwards for 47, featuring three elegant fours.
There was little Babar could do when a full-length delivery from Stuart Broad moved away late and took the outside edge, with wicketkeeper Jos Buttler holding the routine catch.
Rizwan, with no more specialist batsmen left to accompany him, attacked and saw Buttler drop a difficult legside chance when he mishooked a short ball from Broad on 14.
Yasir Shah, who had briefly frustrated England with the bat during Pakistan’s three-wicket defeat in the first Test at Old Trafford last week, square-drove a boundary off Broad.
But going for a booming drive, he was caught behind off James Anderson as England’s all-time leading bowler moved to within seven wickets of becoming the first paceman with 600 Test wickets.
And Pakistan were 178-6 when tailender Shaheen Afridi was run out for a duck when Dom Sibley, running round from the slip cordon, threw down the stumps at the bowler’s end.
Rizwan kept playing his shots, however, and cleverly uppercut left-arm paceman Sam Curran over the slips for four before driving Chris Woakes through extra cover for a more textbook boundary.
England took the new ball but, bizarrely, still kept six fielders back when Rizwan was on strike even when conditions were so clearly in their favour.
But Rizwan still took a two off Broad that saw him to a fine fifty off 104 balls including four boundaries.
Pakistan resumed in trouble at 126-5, with Babar then 25 not out and Rizwan unbeaten on four.
Pakistan, already 1-0 down in a three-match series, had seen captain Azhar Ali win the toss and bat on Thursday.
The tourists, however, lost three wickets for 18 runs on a rain-shortened first day where the humid atmosphere aided England’s pacemen.
Pakistan’s plight would have been worse had not opener Abid Ali been dropped twice in the slips on the way to making 60.
Meanwhile batsman Fawad Alam saw his near 11-year wait for a Test recall finish with a four-ball duck, his five-minute innings ending Thursday when he was lbw on review to Woakes.
Victory in this match would see England secure their first series win over Pakistan since 2010.