December 8, 2000

With Pakistan losing early advantage, match evenly poised

Against all expectations Pakistan lost the advantage gained on the 1st day and packed up for a total of 405 runs. After the two centurions Inzamam ul Haq and Yousuf Youhana found their way to the pavilion, the remaining wickets were lost in quick succession. The over-projected myth of a spinoriented pitch was also broken when spinners and the pace bowlers evenly shared the wickets. It was a day of dull and dreary cricket. England was 79 for 1 when the stumps were drawn for the day.

The 2nd day's game at Karachi started with a flurry of shots to the boundary line offering the small crowd some excitement that they badly needed, Andrew Caddick being the victim. While Inzamam ul Haq punished the bowler for 3 fours, Yousuf Youhana snatched two boundaries from him. With this plunder, the pair succeeded in creating a new partnership record of 259 runs at the National Stadium in Karachi.

After 10 overs of the day's play Pakistan was at 323 with both the stalwarts intact when the situation changed abruptly. The England bowlers clicked making short work of the two overnight centurions. Youhana was the first to go caught and bowled by Giles for a precious 117. It was a spectacular catch lifted by Giles almost from the ground level. His partner Inzamam who looked like heading for a double ton also succumbed to an excellent catch by Giles at short cover off Craig White, after playing a splendid innings of 142. Against the expectations of piling up a big total, Pakistan lost the best 5 batsmen for 325 runs.

Among the remaining lot Abdur Razzaq, Shahid Afridi and Moin Khan were quite capable of building up a big total but they along with the tail-enders put together were only able to add 80 more runs to the total. With 21 runs Razzaq was the highest scorer among them. Pakistan was all out for 405 runs. While Giles clinched 4 wickets Gough claimed 3. The credit for restricting Pakistan to a moderate total goes to the England bowlers who exploited the pitch to their advantage, denying the batsmen undue liberties to score free runs. The wickets evenly shared between spinners and the pace bowlers also indicated that the track was not the monopoly of only one type of bowling.

Opening the innings with Mike Atherton and Marcus Trescothick, England made a very steady start, scoring only 10 runs in the first 6 overs. Pakistan achieved the first success when Trescothick made his way to the pavilion after scoring 13 runs. He was the victim of a marvelous catch taken by Imran Nazir at point, off the bowling of Waqar Younis. With his hand fully stretched, the youngster jumped nearly two feet in the air to hold the catch. England lost the 1st wicket with 29 runs on the board.

Skipper Nasser Hussain came in to bat opening his account after 25 balls in 30 minutes of play. Continuing to maintain a defensive stance England scored 50 of the innings in 19 overs. Although the bowlers were toiling hard to make another break-through, the batsmen were playing safe to while away the crucial evening hour. Surprisingly the pitch was offering high bounce even to the spinners but Atherton remained unperturbed by guile as well as bounce. He exercised complete mastery over the game.

With the shadows lengthening and the light fading, the play was called off when England was 79 for 1. Holding the crease for were Mike Atherton (43) and Nasser Hussain (13). England remains 326 runs behind Pakistan's total of 405 with 9 wickets in hand. With only 192 runs scored in 84 overs it was a day of boring cricket. The two sides may be having their stakes but the spectators did not!