December 8, 2000

Determined England stay in contention against Pakistan

Resolute batting by England when it was most required took them to 79 for the loss of just one wicket on the second day of the third Test in Karachi.

Facing a Pakistan first innings total of 405, Michael Atherton and Nasser Hussain provided application and discipline in their batting to ensure that England did not lose further wickets after Marcus Trescothick was dismissed for thirteen.

Needing to score 206 to make Pakistan bat again, Hussain and Atherton took the right approach and although their slow batting was little entertainment, it was necessary to keep wickets intact.

The only success that Pakistan had during the two-and-a-half-hours of England's batting came shortly after tea when Imran Nazir, fielding at point, brought off a marvellous, right-handed, overhead catch, off Waqar Younis, as Trescothick mistimed his square-drive.

Hussain, who has been very short of runs in this series, although it must be said, he has been a victim of some poor umpiring decisions, took 25 balls to score his first run. He enjoyed a rare moment of luck too, when on six, he edged Danish Kaneria between slip and 'keeper. England will be hoping that such an incident will signal a change in fortune for their out of form captain.

Atherton was not that much faster but he did take the opportunity to hit anything that was loose. He was quick to square cut a short ball, well outside the off-stump from Abdur Razzaq, for four which brought England's fifty in the nineteenth over and took his own score to 29.

Moin Khan, the Pakistan captain, switched his bowlers frequently, but the two batsmen had shown great determination in taking their unbeaten stand to fifty at stumps. Hussain had batted for over an hour-and-a-half to score 13 and Atherton, nearly an hour longer for his 43.

Earlier, Pakistan, having threatened a much higher total, could only add 113 from their remaining seven wickets. They lost five of them within an hour-and-a-half before lunch with Ashley Giles picking up four of them from his superbly controlled left-arm spin bowling.

Yousuf Youhana was the first to go after adding 13 to his overnight score of 104 when Giles held a low, right-handed return catch and two runs later on 325, Pakistan lost the fifth wicket when Inzamam-ul-Haq was brilliantly caught at point by Trescothick.

Giles struck twice more in the next forty minutes. First he had Moin caught from a leading edge as he tried to sweep, and then he bowled Shahid Afridi, who offered no stroke to a ball which didn't turn much and hit the off stump.

Pakistan were 359 for seven and fifteen runs later, just before the extended morning session of play (as a result of Friday prayers) came to an end, Giles had Razzaq caught by Hussain at slip after the ball had been deflected by the wicket-keeper.

Darren Gough removed the last two wickets after they had held out for an hour, adding 31, to finish with three for 82. Giles who had four for 94 from 35 overs would have had an even better return for his excellent effort had three catches not been put down off him.

Trescothick dropped Saqlain Mushtaq on 15, after Waqar Younis had been let off twice on eleven, first by Graham Thorpe at silly mid-off and then by Atherton at gully.

Giles was still delighted by his day's work though. "I had a bit of rhythm today but I think that is because I was able to bowl a bit as well," he said. "As soon as I came on yesterday they weren't interested in letting me settle down.

"Inzamam is one of the best players in the world and he took a liking to me. But today I got a wicket with my first ball and got a new batsman in, which allowed me to settle down and get into a rhythm.

"We're a long way behind. There are two days gone, and it's not going to be easy because the wicket is starting to turn -- and we know we're going to have to battle," he continued.