December 2, 2000

Pakistan batsmen respond well to England challenge

After three and a half days of fine England performances in the second Test, Pakistan's batsmen responded strongly taking their side to a position of relative safety. By stumps on the fourth day in Faislabad, they were 186 for two in the second innings.

Having conceded a first innings lead of 26, Pakistan will go into the final day tomorrow 160 runs ahead with eight wickets remaining, While a draw is the most likely outcome of this Test match, it has become a situation where several permutations are possible.

Pakistan may well bat until lunch and add a further 90 runs or so before declaring. England would then have two sessions to go for the runs for victory but with little risk of losing wickets in the run-chase and with time against them, they might wish to play safe and opt for a drawn match.

England claimed an early wicket after Pakistan had begun their second innings forty minutes before lunch. Shahid Afridi, having scored ten from as many balls, hooked Darren Gough straight to Ashley Giles at fine leg.

Then followed an excellent second wicket partnership between Salim Elahi and Abdur Razzaq. Elahi would normally bat at number three but as Saeed Anwar had been ill and off the field, he filled the position and did it admirably.

He played the England pace and spin attack with equal ease, showing perfect timing in his strokes. Early in his innings, his straight drive for four off Gough which took him to 18 was effortless. He then drove Giles to the mid-wicket boundary and repeated the shot for three.

With England's double spin attack in operation, Ian Salisbury having been brought in, Elahi used his feet and drove beautifully on either side if the wicket. Salisbury soon lost his line and length and at one stage bowled three full tosses down the leg side. He was replaced by Caddick.

Elahi reached his fifty with a boundary off Caddick's first ball and then took nine in the next over from Giles. He brought the hundred of the Pakistan innings up on the board with a flick to mid-wicket off Caddick after he had hit his previous ball to the extra cover boundary.

His dismissal after two and a half hours at the crease came two overs before tea with his score soon 72 which contained ten boundaries from 116 balls. He attempted to sweep Giles and Stewart took a fine diving catch off the gloves. Pakistan were 11 for two and Elahi's stand with Razzaq had ended just two short of a century.

Razzaq went on to reach his fifty from 140 balls while Inzamam ul-Haq normally a fluent stroke player was content to play a supporting role. He was dropped on 30 by Caddick, a difficult running catch at backward square leg, off Giles.

Razzaq's entertaining strokes took him to an unbeaten 60 at stumps with Inzamam on 33 and their unbroken third wicket stand worth 75.

At the start of the fourth day's play, England resumed their first innings on 282 for eight and although it wasn't long before Pakistan claimed the ninth wicket, it took them well over an hour to dismiss England.

Andy Caddick lost his wicket in the fourth over when he was caught behind off Razzaq for five with the total on 295. Caddick would have been disappointed as the replay showed he had not played the ball.

The tenth wicket added as many as 47 runs with Craig White playing attacking shots before off-spinner Saqlain Mushtaq brought one in sharply to bowl him for 41 which came from just 46 balls.

Gough with 19 not out had given him good support and helped take the England innings to 342. Saqlain finished with three for 62 from 30.4 overs.