Dominic Bess belied his position as a nightwatchman by guiding England into a first-innings lead against Pakistan on a rain-marred day of the second Test at Headingley on Saturday.
England were 199 for three at tea, 25 runs in front, after rain meant there was no play before lunch.
Bess was 40 not out, having scored 57 on debut during England’s thumping nine-wicket defeat by Pakistan in the first Test at Lord’s.
Together with Dawid Malan (27 not out) he had had put on an unbroken 61 for the fourth wicket after England captain Joe Root fell for 43 to the disappointment of his Yorkshire home crowd.
England were 106 for two, 68 runs adrift of Pakistan’s lowly 174, when play eventually got under way at 2:45 pm (1345 GMT) some several hours after the scheduled 11:00am (1000 GMT) start time.
Root was 29 not out and Bess, who came in as a nightwatchman late Friday following Alastair Cook’s exit for 44, unbeaten on nought.
Bess, selected primarily as an off-spinner but yet to take a Test wicket, made light of the overcast, bowler-friendly conditions to cover-drive left-arm quck Mohammad Amir for a well-struck four.
It was one of several stylish boundaries hit by the 20-year-old Bess that included a well-timed on-drive off Mohammad Abbas.
With Bess playing shots worthy of a top-order batsman, England lost Root.
The England skipper has been criticised for a repeated failure to convert Test fifties into his hundreds.
But on Saturday he exited for 45.
The right-hander, chasing a scrambled seam delivery from Amir angled across him, succeeded only in getting a thin edge to wicket-keeper Sarfraz Ahmed, with the Pakistan captain joyfully accepting the easy catch.
Left-hander Malan made an uncertain start before finding his touch with several boundaries, including a square driven four off Abbas.
And when Bess swept leg-spinner Shadab Khan, England had the lead.
Pakistan only need to avoid defeat at Headingley to seal a first series win in England for 22 years.
But if England fail to it will condemn them to a third successive series loss after reverses in Australia and New Zealand. -AFP