Root retains bright outlook despite 'disappointing' draw in Southampton

By Rob Lancaster 18 August 2020 4
Root retains bright outlook despite 'disappointing' draw in Southampton

Captains Joe Root and Azhar Ali were both able to draw positives from the drawn second Test between England and Pakistan, a match which was ruined by stoppages due to bad light and rain.

Only 134.3 overs of play were possible across the five days in Southampton, meaning England remain 1-0 up with a game to play in the three-match series.

After Pakistan were eventually bowled out for 236 in their first innings, England reached 110-4 before declaring on a final day that did not start until the afternoon, allowing an early finish to proceedings.

Root admitted it was "disappointing" that the conditions did not allow for an intriguing contest to play out, as well as suggesting a move to start play earlier in England to make up issues with the light.

"We were really excited about this week, a new challenge for us, and it's disappointing not to get in as much cricket as we'd have liked - but nice to be stood here still 1-0 up in the series," he said at the post-match presentation ceremony.

"Potentially, in England, we may be able to start half an hour earlier - if we lose time - I think you want to protect the crux of Test cricket as much as you can, in terms of the ball, but it is something to look at it I suppose.

"But I do think it has been a week of strange circumstances. It's not very often that you see bad light play such a part over a five-day game. Everyone has coped with it as best they can."

Zak Crawley's half-century was a highlight of Monday's limited action, the right-handed batsman marking his return to the XI with 54 from 99 balls.

On the performance of Crawley, who replaced the absent Ben Stokes in the team, Root said: "I thought he played excellently today.

"I spoke to the batting group before we started play today about making sure that we were very professional in how we approached this session - and for what is a very young top order, in particular, it was a great experience for us."

Opposite number Azhar was pleased with the way his team fought hard with the bat to post a competitive total in what were bowler-friendly conditions.

The tourists must now win the final match, which gets under way at the same venue on Friday, if they are to draw level, but there were promising signs for their skipper in what little action unfolded at the Rose Bowl.

"It has been frustrating for both teams. The game was set quite nicely, with conditions good for bowling throughout - the total we got, we thought would be very competitive but, unfortunately, the weather was the winner in the end," he said.

"I'm proud of them [the batsmen]. We spoke before the game started that we are taking the challenge of batting first. Whoever went in fought really hard; the England bowling attack is a brilliant attack, with the experience of Broad and Anderson. The guys stuck to the task."

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