December 3, 2000

Drawn Test whets appetite for final encounter

For a couple of brief moments, there was a thought that there could be a thrilling finish to the second Test in Faislabad, which eventually fizzled out as a draw. It does however set up nicely the third Test later this week in Karachi for the final show down in this series.

Having declared their second innings on 269 for three, half an hour before lunch, Pakistan had given England an improbable victory target of 244 to be made in the remainder of the day.

It meant that England would have needed to score roughly at the rate of a run a minute with the last session being short and with that in mind it was no surprise that the priority of Michael Atherton and Marcus Trescothick was, it seemed, to bat for safety first.

They made ten in the 20 minutes to lunch and the England total reached 88 in140 minutes to tea. They lost three wickets in the process and it became imperative to concentrate on keeping the wickets intact.

Atherton remained solid in defence with Pakistan's bowlers realising the importance of his wicket in the situation.

Trescothick, ten, was the first to be dismissed on 44 with Saqlain Mushtaq uprooting his off stump and 13 runs later when two wickets fell on the same score, it gave Pakistan a glimmer of hope of an England collapse.

Nasser Hussain was the victim, for the second time in the match of a poor umpiring decision. He was given caught behind the wicket when he seemed to have missed the ball attempting to play a square cut.

Eight balls later, the same bowler Arshad Khan, bowled Graham Thorpe who let an off stump ball go, expecting it to spin away but it went straight on.

Atherton and Alec Stewart, with a 50-run stand took the total to 108 with Atherton having reached his half-century in two and a half hours.

Although there wasn't a realistic chance of forcing a victory, Pakistan's hopes were raised briefly for the second time with the fall of the next two wickets in quick succession.

Leg spinner Shahid Afridi first had Stewart caught at silly mid off for 22 in 75 minutes batting and two runs later he deceived Graeme Hick with a googly in the second of the regulation 15 mandatory overs that were to be bowled.

Finally, with 20 minutes left until the scheduled close of play and England's total 125 for five, the captains decided to end the match.

Earlier in the day, Pakistan had given a most entertaining display of batting. Resuming their second innings 186 for two, Abdur Razzaq and Inzamam ul Haq took the total to 259 before the latter, on 71, was caught at long-on off Ian Salisbury who he had hit, two balls earlier for the only six of the innings.

Ten runs after Inzamam's dismissal, Razzaq reached his maiden Test century from 225 balls and it contained 12 boundaries. He had played most responsibly during his five and a half hour stay at the crease.

Having been promoted to number three, he helped to steady the innings first after the early loss of a wicket and this morning, when there was a need for quick runs, he hit freely. Upon reaching his hundred, Pakistan captain Moin Khan declared the innings.