Pakistan’s Shaheen Afridi needed just four balls to remove England’s Rory Burns for a duck on Sunday before rain cut short the fourth day of the second Test as bad weather once again interrupted the match.
England were 7/1 in reply to Pakistan’s first innings 236 when the umpires took the players off the Ageas Bowl outfield at 12:00 pm local time (1100 GMT).
When play was finally abandoned for the day at 3:51 pm, just 10.2 of the day’s scheduled 98 overs had been bowled.
A spokesman for the umpires said it would take at least two-and-a-half to three hours to get the square fit for play and even more time to dry a rain-sodden outfield, taking them beyond the 7 pm cut off for the day’s play to end.
With only a day remaining, this match is destined for a draw – a result that would preserve England’s 1-0 series lead following their three-wicket victory in the first Test at Old Trafford last week.
The series ends with the third Test, also at Southampton, starting Friday.
In gloomy conditions that, with the floodlights on, favoured Pakistan’s pacemen as they had England’s quicks, fast bowler Afridi produced a superb delivery that moved away from fellow left-hander Burns, who edged to second slip Asad Shafiq.
It took England, who last won a Test series against Pakistan in 2010, until the third over to score their first runs, with Dom Sibley and Zak Crawley struggling against Afridi and the accurate Mohammad Abbas.
When the umpires called a halt, Sibley was unbeaten on 2 and Crawley, recalled in place of Ben Stokes after the star all-rounder withdrew from this match due to personal reasons, not out on 5.
Earlier, Mohammad Rizwan top-scored with 72 as Pakistan’s first innings at last came to a end.
Pakistan resumed on 223/9 after rain had washed out the whole of Saturday’s play after bad weather had also curtailed the first two days.
Rizwan was 60 not out – his second fifty in eight career Tests following his 95 against Australia in Brisbane in November.
The wicketkeeper, in partnership with dogged tailender Abbas (2 off 20 balls), had taken Pakistan past 200 in a ninth-wicket stand after they had come together with the tourists struggling at 176/8.
Rizwan made his intentions clear by swingingly wildly, and missing, at James Anderson as he charged down the pitch to Sunday’s first ball of the day.
The wicketkeeper did, however, make contact when he sliced a drive off Anderson over the slips to the third man boundary.
Rizwan also square-cut Anderson for a well-struck four before he was out when, aiming legside off Stuart Broad, he got a leading edge and was caught at cover by Crawley.
Rizwan batted for three and three-quarter hours, facing 139 balls with seven fours.
Pakistan were also indebted to Abid Ali (60) and Babar Azam (47) for painstaking innings when the conditions were stacked against the batsmen.
Broad, who had already become the first England bowler since off-spinner Graeme Swann 11 years ago to take three wickets in seven consecutive Test innings, led the attack with 4/56 in 27.2 overs.
The experienced paceman has taken 26 wickets in four Tests so far this season at a miserly average of 12.38.