December 4, 2000

Razzaq hits maiden 100: England survive scary moments in drawn Test

Faisalabad, Dec 3: Abdur Razzaq notched up his maiden century as the second cricket Test between England and Pakistan ended in a draw but not before the tourists were given a scare by the home spinners and umpire Mian Mohammad Aslam.

Razzaq remained undefeated on 100 as Pakistan declared their second innings at 269 for three after resuming at 186 for two to set England a possible and chaseable 244-run target in a minimum of 62 overs.

Arshad Khan and Saqlain Mushtaq then picked up three wickets inside five overs as England slumped from 44 for no wicket to 57 for three. Nevertheless, Michael Atherton and Alec Stewart, the two former captains, halted the panic and thwarted Pakistan's slim hopes by adding 51 runs for the fourth wicket partnership in 75 minutes to take the game away from the home team.

By the time Shahid Afridi got the lucky wicket of Stewart (22) at the score of 108 for four and 11 balls later added the scalp of Graeme Hick (0), it was too late to force a result.

When the play ended with the mutual consent of the two captains with five mandatory overs still to be bowled, England were 125 for five with Atherton unbeaten on 65. It was Atherton's 43rd career half century in 105th Test and included five fours from 205 minutes of stay at the wicket. With him was Craig White on nine.

England were themselves to be blamed for getting into the trouble. Instead of trying to achieve the target with some positive stroke-play, they danced to the tune of the Pakistan spinners by playing defensive.

But that's precisely what England have done in the last two days. They fielded with a packed defense and then batted with a negative approach. When a team gets into the field thinking negatively, it automatically eliminates its chances of winning the game but enhance prospects of ending up on the losing more than holding the opponents to a draw.

Marcus Trescothick was bowled to a magnificent mystery ball by Saqlain Mushtaq that uprooted the left-hander's middle stump. Nasser Hussain was very unlucky for the second time in the match when he was declared caught behind though the ball had gone into the gloves of Moin Khan after hitting Hussain's back leg. A leg before decision was out of question because the ball had pitched and hit well outside the off stump. The guilty umpire was Mian Mohammad Aslam.

Hussain was also given leg before in the first innings by Steve Bucknor when the ball had hit the England captain's pads off an inside edge. Generally, the umpiring in this Test has been substandard. Unfortunately, both the men in white coats are on the panel of ICC umpires which conveys a depressing story for not only the image of the game but also for the respective teams.

To rub salt to the wound, Stewart was given caught bat and pad by Mian Mohammad Aslam but the television replays revealed otherwise.

If Hussain can only regret that he was at the wrong end at the wrong time, Graham Thorpe was bowled to a beauty of a delivery when he was foxed by Arshad Khan's flighted delivery which kept straight and hit the left-hander's off stump who had offered no stroke.

But the smiles the Pakistanis had at that stage were wiped off by the defiance of Atherton and Stewart as they consumed valuable time.

Pakistan captain Moin Khan did everything he could to make a match out of it, but failed. He made a very brave, sporting and timely declaration and then operated with the spinners more with an aggressive field so that he could throw in the maximum overs and covert even the half chances. Even his quick bowling changes couldn't break the concentration, application and stubbornness of England's most experienced batsman in Michael Atherton.

Nonetheless, the star of the day was 20-year-old Abdur Razzaq who batted better than some of the Pakistanis in the first innings to get a taste of a Test century. Resuming this morning at 60, Razzaq scored his required 40 runs from 57 deliveries with the aid of five scorching boundaries. He complete dhis century by playing an off-drive off Darren Gough for a couple. Pakistan's second innings was declared immediately after Razzaq reached three figures.

Razzaq, who faced 225 balls out of which 12 were coverted into boundraies during his 330 minutes of batting, bettered his previous best of 87 he had scored earlier this year against the West Indies at Georgetown, Guyana.

Razzaq, who earned the Man-of-the-Match award, showed no respect or mercy to the England bowlers who began the day with a defensive field. Nasser Hussain was forced to take off Andrew Caddick from the attack after his first two overs went away for 16 runs and then Ashley Giles five overs in two spells conceding 24 runs. Ian Salisbury's three overs cost him 16 runs.

Razzaq had the strokes of luck he required in the nervous nineties. Michael Atherton made an excellent diving effort at covers off Giles but failed to hold a low catch when the Pakistan allrounder was 90. Five runs later, Graham Thorpe's throw from backward point failed to hit the sticks at the striker's end after Razzaq had given up any hope of regaining his crease at the strike's end following a terrible mixup with Inzamam-ul-Haq.

Together with vice-captain Inzamam, Razzaq put on 148 runs for the third wicket in 180 minutes. Inzamam made mends for his second-ball duck in the first innings with a sweet innings of 71. He departed in an effort to acclerate the scoring.

Inzamam, who scored 63 at Lahore, batted for three hours during which he received 122 balls. He struck three fours and a towering six off Salisbury while registering his 29th career half century in 69th Test.

It was the sheer brilliant stroke-play by Razzaq and Inzamam that Pakistan scored almost run-a-minute on the final day. They added 83 runs in 89 minutes and off 116 deliveries.

Both the teams leave for Karachi late Sunday evening where the third and final Test begins from Dec 7.