December 1, 2000

Pakistan wrest initiative with 2 quick dismissals

Faisalabad, Nov 30: Pakistan's magician spinner Saqlain Mushtaq picked up two quick wickets to snatch the initiative back from England on the second day of the second cricket Test here on Thursday.

Saqlain, who grabbed all the eight wickets England lost in the first innings at Lahore, dismissed Michael Atherton (32) and Nasser Hussain (23) in a space of nine balls as England finished the day at 110 for three after being 105 for one half an hour before close.

Marcus Trescothick (30) was the third Englishmen to perish when he became wrist spinner Danish Kaneria's first victim in Test cricket.

Saqlain's Surrey team-mates, Ian Salisbury and Graham Thorpe, defied the remaining three overs though they never looked at ease against the finger spinner when they played and missed on more than a few occasions. Anything could have happened had bad light not forced an early closure with two overs still to be bowled.

Saqlain's performance with the red cherry came after he played a leading role in propelling Pakistan to cross the 300 mark. The world was dark for Pakistan when they collapsed to 283 for nine from 271 for five after having resumed this morning at 243 for five.

Saqlain contributed an invaluable and precious 34 runs with the wood and featured in a priceless 33-run last wicket partnership with debutant Danish Kaneria to take Pakistan to their eventual score of 316.

As things stand after two days of play, Pakistan are still 206 runs ahead with England in possession of seven wickets. But the main worry for the tourists will be the departure of the experienced duo of Atherton and Hussain. Besides Thorpe, Alec Sewart and an out-of-form Graeme Hick are the specialist batsmen left alongwith allrounder Craig White who belted his career-best 93 at Lahore. But this wicket and the Pakistan bowling attack is different from what it was two weeks back.

Although Pakistan batsmen squandered the opportunity of posting a score excessive of 425 because of some suicidal shot selection, they still are in with a chance to take a sizeable first innings lead.

The wicket has shown that it has something for the Pakistan bowlers though Wasim Akram, in his Tests century match, and Abdur Razzaq were rusty and indisciplined while sharing 13 no-balls between them. They relied more on pitching short and targetting the batsmen's body in which they suceeded but failed to break the defenses of the English openers.

And when Danish Kaneria was given his first opportunity to bowl in Test cricket in the 10th over, he immediately found the surface to his liking. The second ball of an eventful over from Danish disappeared for a six at mid wicket, fourth punished for a boundary at the same area, and fifth finding the bat but falling a yard away from a diving Yousuf Youhana at silly point.

Nevertheless, the teenager from Karachi had the final laugh when he foxed Trescothick with a wrong one two overs later and Moin Khan made no mistake in removing the bails.

Saqlain Mustaq, introduced into the attack in the 20th over, had to wait until his ninth over to get his name included in the wicket-takers list when he bowled a perfect delivery which caught the deflection of Atherton's bat and Yousuf Youhana did the rest at silly point.

Nasser Hussain followed Atherton in the following over when an experienced Steve Bucknor was deceived by a confident leg before appeal under fading light and raised his finger towards heaven. Television replays confirmed that Hussain had edged the ball onto his pads but the West Indian didn't have the access to screen to make the decision.

Hussain scored 23 off 102 balls after occupying the crease for 114 minutes. Atherton, whose 163-minute 32 included two boundaries, was earlier fortunate when he was adjudged not out by Mian Mohammad Aslam though television replays revealed that he had gloved a Wasim Akram bouncer before going into the safe hands of Moin Khan.

Despite the fact that dismissed English trio failed to capitalize on confident starts, they taught the Pakistanis that if their batsmen kept their cools, batted with their heads down and waited for poor deliveries, runs were not difficult to come by. But for unknown reasons, Pakistan batsmen were in hurry and committed harakiri at crucial stages.

If it was Saeed Anwar's dismissal that changed the complexion of the game on Wednesday, it was Yousuf Youhana's poor shot on Thursday morning that saw Pakistan lose its way. Youhana fell pray to the oldest trick in cricket when he was caught hooking despite Darren Gough having taken two fielders in the deep for the shot.

The termination of the 120-run sixth wicket partnership resulted in quick dismissals of Moin Khan, Wasim Akram and Arshad Khan before Saqlain Mushtaq and Danish Kaneria held the innings together.

Yousuf Youhana added 16 runs to his overnight score of 61. His 77 came after 275 minutes of batting during which he received 227 balls out of which eight were converted into boundaries. Moin Khan was caught in the slips after scoring 65 that came off 116 balls after 185 minutes of batting. His innings included six boundaries and two sixes.

Pakistan, who were dismissed 20 minutes after lunch, added 73 runs in 80 minutes of batting.

The destroyer-in-chief of Pakistan batting was Warwickshire's left-arm spinner Ashley Giles who recorded his first five-wicket haul in his third Test. Giles finished with five for 75 off 35 overs.

The other five wickets were shared by pacemen Darren Gough (three for 79) and Craig White (two for 71).