Has there been a greater ally to preserving five-day cricket than the British weather? As one-sided Test matches increasingly fail to last their full lengths, trusty English summer rain remains on hand to keep things going just that little bit longer.
Persistent rain in Leeds meant a full house was served only a soupçon of a second day at Headingley, although after play eventually got underway at 2:45 pm there still proved time for England to take a stranglehold on this match.
In truth it was perhaps not a day of the highest quality, with neither Pakistan showing the precision they produced last week at Lord’s, nor England truly dominating proceedings in the manner they might have hoped.
Of concern to England will be the inability of their batsmen to capitalise once well set – all of their first six batsmen scored more than 20, none made it to a half-century.
And yet there was a sense that this was a trickier pitch than it might first appear, mostly docile but capable of the odd nasty surprise, an old Yorkshire terrier having the occasional little nip at a batsman.
Dawid Malan was on the receiving end of one, surprised by Mohammad Amir’s first ball after tea that bounced more than expected – and indeed 40cm more than other balls from seamers on a similar length – catching his gloves and looping through to the keeper – his score of 27 not doing much to alleviate the selectors axe dangling ever closer to his head.
Ultimately England will surely be pleased with the end result of the day, they started 68 behind Pakistan and finished 128 ahead – 302/7 with Jos Buttler and Sam Curran still there to frustrate the opposition on day three.
The closest man to reaching 50 proved to be nightwatchman Dom Bess, who batted with such fluency and ease that it at times appeared Malan should have been sent out last night instead to protect him.
The 20-year-old has been picked for his off-spin, of which England will be hoping for good things as this game progresses, but he proved highly adept as England’s number four – arguably better than many who have been tried as solutions in the middle order.
Pakistan were nowhere near the level of precision that they produced last week at Lord’s, the costliest mistake coming 10 overs before the second new ball, Buttler dropped only a ball after he had got off the mark. Hasan Ali spilled a firmly struck shot at midwicket and let what small amount of pressure Pakistan might have been able to apply drift away into the Yorkshire air.
The tourists though were never really able to get fully on the front foot, Mohammad Abbas might have removed Chris Woakes with a lovely little nibbler outside off stump, but it was Curran – on his last day as a teenager – who had the final word in the last over. First hooking Ali stylishly for four, then with even more verve driving the next ball down the ground for four more, finally blocking the last delivery to finish off a good if not quite perfect day for England.