SOUTHAMPTON – England bowler James Anderson moved one shy of 600 Test wickets as he struck late on a frustrating and mainly forgettable fourth day of the third Test against Pakistan on Monday.
The 38-year-old, looking to become the first pace bowler to reach that landmark, had opener Abid Ali lbw for a painstaking 42 late on in a weather-shortened day.
Pakistan, who followed on after being bowled out for 273 in reply to England’s first innings 583-8 declared, ended the day on 100-2, still requiring 210 runs to make England bat again.
England are looking to wrap up a 2-0 series win although Tuesday’s weather forecast is for heavy rain.
Pakistan began the day having not started their second innings and crept along to 41 without loss before rain forced the players off for an early lunch.
With England looking flat, both Pakistan openers looked comfortable although Anderson was denied a wicket in his third over of the day when Shan Masood edged behind but Jos Buttler failed to pouch what looked like a routine catch.
When play resumed some three hours later after groundstaff mopped up the pitch, it was Anderson’s partner in crime Stuart Broad who made the initial breakthrough, nipping one back to Masood who was out lbw for 18 not playing a shot.
Despite the lack of runs it was the longest opening stand against England since June 2016, spanning 23.4 overs.
Spinner Dom Bess whirled away without success in a soporific afternoon session as Ali edged towards a half century.
But with the old ball finally beginning to swing, Anderson then pinned him in front of his stumps and umpire Michael Gough raised his finger. Pakistan reviewed but the ball was shown to be just clipping leg stump.
Anderson only managed one more over, however, before bad light and rain ended the day’s play with Pakistan’s captain Azhar Ali, a centurion in the first innings, on 29.
Anderson will hope that the weather forecast for Tuesday improves so that he gets the chance to reach another milestone.
Already England’s leading Test wicket taker, Anderson is behind only spinners Muttiah Muralitharan (800) of Sri Lanka, Australia’s Shane Warne (708) and India’s Anil Kumble (619).