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“James Anderson celebrates his 600th Test wicket after dismissing Pakistan captain Azhar Ali. ©AFP”
Southampton (United Kingdom) (AFP) – England paceman James Anderson cemented his place in cricket history by taking his 600th Test wicket when he dismissed Pakistan captain Azhar Ali in the rain-marred third and final Test at Southampton on Tuesday.
Fresh downpours meant play did not get under way on the last day until 1515 GMT.
But the 38-year-old Anderson struck with his 14th ball of the day.
Defying a docile pitch, he produced a rising delivery that moved away from first-innings century-maker Azhar on 31, with England skipper Joe Root holding a head-high catch at first slip.
There was applause and cheers from Anderson’s team-mates, with the nick off the shoulder of Azhar’s bat clearly audible at an empty Ageas Bowl.
Azhar’s exit left Pakistan, following on, 109-3 — still 201 runs adrift of England’s first innings 583-8 declared.
And there was enough time left in the day for England, 1-0 up in the three-match contest and on the brink of a first series win over Pakistan in a decade, to press for victory.
Anderson is only the fourth bowler — and first paceman — to reach the mark of 600 Test wickets.
The only men ahead of him in the all-time Test list are three retired spinners — Sri Lanka’s Muttiah Muralitharan (800), Australia’s Shane Warne (708) and India’s Anil Kumble (619).
Anderson was left just one wicket shy of the landmark figure as a combination of poor catching, bad weather and determined Pakistan batting thwarted him on Monday.
Anderson, denied an early breakthrough when Jos Buttler dropped a routine chance to reprieve Shan Masood, returned late in the day to have opener Abid Ali lbw for 42.
But that was as good as it got for Anderson on a frustrating day.
– ‘Massive achievement’ –
“It is a massive achievement,” England coach Chris Silverwood said of Anderson’s looming milestone after stumps on Monday.”To finish strong tomorrow and see Jimmy get his 600th would be fantastic. I want to win the game.That’s my first and foremost.”
Anderson started Monday in sight of the 600 mark after taking 5-56 — his 29th five-wicket haul in 156 Tests — during Pakistan’s first-innings 273.
He might even have reached the landmark late on Sunday but he was frustrated by a clutch of dropped chances.
“No one means to drop them,” said Silverwood.”Last night (Sunday) was gloomy but it’s still not an excuse. And Jos’s wobbled horrible as it came to him.”