Rain delay frustrates England in second Test against Pakistan
Leeds (UK) Jun 2 (AFP) Rain delayed the scheduled 11:00am local time (1000 GMT start) of the second day's play in the second Test between England and Pakistan at Headingley on Saturday.
Persistent early morning drizzle saw the pitch and surrounding square remain fully covered, with the rain that was falling steadily from grey skies above Leeds not showing much sign of stopping anytime soon.
England, looking to bounce back from their nine-wicket thrashing in the first Test at Lord's and end the two-match series all square at 1-1, ended the opening day just 68 runs behind Pakistan's lowly first-innings 174.
Joe Root, the England captain, was 29 not out on his Yorkshire home ground, with nightwatchman Dominic Bess unbeaten on nought.
Pakistan only need to avoid defeat at Headingley to seal a first series win in England for 22 years.
So any rain delays, which would reduce the amount of time available to England to win the game, were likely to be a boost to the tourists.
Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed won the toss and decided to bat on a good pitch but humid and overcast conditions created an environment that assisted swing and seam bowling.
England, bowling a fuller length than at Lord's, with pacemen Stuart Broad, James Anderson and the recalled Chris Woakes all taking three wickets apiece in an innings where Pakistan were indebted to teenager Shadab Khan's 56-- the 19-year-old's third fifty in as many Tests.
England were without Ben Stokes after the all-rounder suffered a hamstring tear that threatens to keep him on the sidelines for at least a month.
Keaton Jennings, who replaced the dropped Mark Stoneman in one of three changes to England's XI, shared an opening stand of 53 with Alastair Cook before he was caught behind off Faheem Ashraf.
Cook, appearing in a record-breaking 154th consecutive Test as he went past the mark he had previously shared with Australia great Allan Border, made 46.
England's all-time leading Test run-scorer did not look in any trouble until, shortly before Friday's close, he gloved a hook off fast bowler Hasan Ali to wicket-keeper Sarfraz.
Defeat for England would see them slip to an 18-year low of seventh in the International Cricket Council's Test rankings.
England have not been so far down the standings since being ranked seventh in October 1999.
They started that year fourth but a team led by Nasser Hussain won just one of eight Tests during the next 12 months before the appointment of former Zimbabwe all-rounder Duncan Fletcher as coach led to an upturn in England's fortunes.
Now England, who have lost six of their last eight Tests, are battling to avoid a third straight series loss following recent reverses in Australia and New Zealand.
Defeat in Leeds and a 2-0 series result would see England drop 93 ranking points. In that case, the would be overtaken by Pakistan, who will rise to 95, as well as Sri Lanka (94)