Jofra Archer may have punched his World Cup ticket with fiery spell on damp day

Jofra Archer may have punched his World Cup ticket with fiery spell on damp day
Jofra Archer celebrates after dismissing Fakhar Zaman

Pakistan 80 for 2 v England - match abandoned

Pledging allegiance to England over his native sun-kissed Barbados may have had several advantages for Jofra Archer, but the weather would decidedly have gone into the "cons" column.

On Wednesday, however, as a wet, stop-start day's play drew to a close after just 19 overs had been bowled, Archer emerged as the man of the contest, conceding just six runs in a four-over spell of such ferocity that this incomplete, unsatisfying day of cricket may be the one that finally punches his ticket to the World Cup.

The start was delayed by an hour and a quarter due to rain that never really went away, and Eoin Morgan's decision to bowl first was the easiest one he will likely get all summer. Chris Woakes bowled the first ball of the match, but the action and excitement all lay at the Pavilion End with Archer steaming down against Imam-ul-Haq. Late movement with nearly every ball at pace often in excess of 90 mph repeatedly squared up Pakistan's leading run-scorer of the past 18 months, and a wicket looked imminent.

It arrived in Archer's next over, with Fakhar Zaman getting an outside edge to the type of delivery Imam had - in hindsight, intelligently - been beaten by so regularly, and England began to take charge straight away. With Archer's end tied up so mean-spiritedly, all Imam and Babar Azam could do was find the occasional release shot when Woakes bowled, but with the batting firepower at England's disposal, a full game looked like it would only ever produce a result in favour of the hosts.

That impression appeared vindicated even further when Babar fell victim to an uncharacteristically soft dismissal just as the pair had begun to get going, Liam Plunkett drawing the outside edge off the final ball of the 12th over. With Pakistan's run rate well below four at this point, Morgan even had the cheek to bring in Joe Root as the first spin option.

Shortly after, however, the heavens opened once more and the rain was accompanied by hailstones this time, and the ground staff were caught on their heels as the pitch took a peppering. That was, in effect, the end of all serious cricket for the day, even though the players did come on for another couple of overs half-an-hour later. By this time, the game had been reduced to 41 overs per side, but the idea that many overs would have been bowled comes across as mildly mirthful now.

The only blot on an ideal 19 overs for England came off what ended up being the last ball of the contest when Adil Rashid beat Haris Sohail with a googly as the batsman charged down the wicket, only for wicketkeeper Jos Buttler to fluff the stumping that looked fairly routine. That was the cue for the rain clouds to gather once more.

In the ensuing hours, the skies kept playing hide and seek with the sun, tormenting spectators and TV viewers with the fleeting prospect of more play. That was never to transpire, much to (one would imagine) Pakistan's relief, who get a clean slate as the sides do battle all over again on Saturday.