December 7, 2000

Inzamam and Youhana build challenging total after difficult start against England

After England's bowlers had given their side an excellent start to the final Test in Karachi, it was Pakistan's batsmen who gradually took over as the day progressed and by stumps, finished on a commanding 292 for three.

An imperious Inzamam-ul-Haq and an equally authoritative Yousuf Youhana, took control of the Pakistan innings into which England had made early in-roads, despite the home side deciding to make first use of another pitch in this series made for the batsmen to thrive on.

Inzamam and Youhana both made a tentative start under the pressure that England's bowlers had exerted upon their side, but once they had settled in they played more freely and by tea, which was taken on 160 for three, they were beginning to dominate.

Facing accurate English bowling and fine fielding in the first two sessions of the day, Pakistan took time to recover from being reduced to 64 for three before lunch.

Darren Gough had taken the first wicket, the important one of Saeed Anwar for eight and on the total of 44, Imran Nazir, one of two changes in the Pakistan team - the other being Waqar Younis for the under-performing Wasim Akram - was dismissed for 20.

Marcus Trescothick, who is becoming such a reliable bowler, had Nazir caught by Ashley Giles from an edged half-volley, to claim his first Test wicket. Twenty runs later, and ten minutes before lunch, the third wicket went with Saleem Elahi playing on to Andy Caddick for 28. Caddick had earlier dropped him on 13, at third-man, from a difficult chance off Trescothick.

By the latter part of the second session of play Pakistan's batsmen had revived the innings and Inzamam had brought up his fifty from 109 balls. Pakistan's 200 followed Youhana's fifty from 111 balls. He reached it with a beautiful drive to mid-on off Craig White, whose three over spell went for seventeen.

Inzamam, who was fortunate not to be given out leg before wicket to Trescothick by umpire Nazir Jnr. (replays confirmed that he was struck on the ankle of his back leg right in front of his stumps), when he had four, was, by the final session of play, dictating terms to the bowlers.

The stroke-play of the two batsmen had become most entertaining, particularly Inzamam who reached his twelfth Test century with a cover drive for four off Ian Salisbury. The rate of scoring had increased substantially in the last session with 132 runs being scored compared with 71 in the first session, though there were ten fewer overs in the morning.

Shortly before the new ball was taken, in the 83rd over, Youhana hit Giles for a straight six and later square cut Caddick for four to reach his fifth Test century. Prior to this, in this series, he scored 124 in the first Test and 77 in the second. Inzamam has been equally prolific with 63 in the first Test and 71 in the second innings of the next Test.

Apart from the lbw that Inzamam survived, he gave a difficult chance, on 73, to slip off White. Michael Atherton got his out stretched right hand to it but the ball went to third man for a single.

By close of play Inzamam was unbeaten on 123 from 223 balls, eighteen of which had been hit to the boundary. Youhana was 104 not out having faced 211 balls and their unbroken fourth wicket stand was worth a monumental 228. Their stand also helped Inzamam overtake Andy Flower's tally of 966 runs to become the leading Test run scorer this year with 1044 runs from 12 matches.

They had grafted early on to consolidate Pakistan's innings and then placed their team into control. Unless England are able to break this partnership early tomorrow and then follow it up with a couple of quick wickets, they will struggle to save this final Test.

"That was the toughest day we've had on tour," admitted Trescothick afterwards. "We have to remember that there are four days left and who knows what will happen tomorrow morning -- it only takes one wicket and suddenly we're back in the game."

He refused to blame the lbw claim that was turned down for England's difficult day. "That's the way these things go sometimes, you have to take the rough with the smooth," Trescothick said. "We'll never know what would have happened if he'd been given, but the umpire said not out, we carried on as normal and worked hard for the rest of the day. I thought that if there was anything wrong with it, it must have been going down the leg side and I asked the umpire and that's what he said happened."