November 30, 2000

Pakistan seize the initiative against England

Staff and Agencies

Pakistan snatched the initiative in the second Test with just moments to go in the evening session of the second day. England had been well placed on 105-1, but the loss of two late wickets left the tourists on 110-3.

Hussain and Atherton added 56-runs in a 100 minute partnership that appeared to have blunted the Pakistan attack. However, Saqlain Mushtaq again made the vital breakthrough when he had Atherton caught by a diving Yousuf Youhana at silly mid-off for 32 after 163 minutes at the crease. This brought in Ian Salisbury as nightwatchman, but he was unable to protect his captain, Nasser Hussain. Hussain had come through a difficult start when Steve Bucknor, widely considered to be one of the finest umpires in the world, gave him out lbw, for 22, to a ball that had clearly hit the bat. To the England captains credit he departed without a hint of dissent, though his search for runs is becoming desperate. Perhaps there was some justice in this as Atherton had earlier escaped despite seemingly edging a catch down the leg side.

The new batsman, Thorpe, was quick to accept the offer of bad light from the umpires that again ended play early.

England had reached tea on the second day of the second Test in Faisalabad on 63-1, in response to Pakistan's 316.

The session began with England striving to take the last Pakistan wicket. The fielding became somewhat ragged as Saqlain counter-attacked, with Salisbury missing a tricky catch, and a couple of run out opportunities being wasted. Saqlain farmed the strike so effectively that Kaneria only faced eight balls in their 57-ball stand, which added 33-runs.

It took the return of Gough to the attack to finally dismiss Saqlain, misjudging a slower ball.

When England began their reply they came up against Wasim Akram in hostile mood. Working up a good pace he struck Trescothick on the shoulder and unsettled both openers with a succession of short deliveries.

Trescothick seemed to have come through the onslaught when he hit the debutant Kaneria for a six and a four in his first over. However, the 18-year old Pakistan leg-spinner had the last laugh. He beat Trescothick with a googly pitched wide outside the off-stump, and saw Moin complete a comfortable stumping.

Hussain joined Atherton, and they took the score to 63 without further loss at tea. The England captain didn't look in entirely convincing form, needing treatment after being struck on the ear by a Razzaq delivery, and being beaten by Saqlain in his only pre-tea over.

Earlier Ashley Giles has bowled England back into contention in the morning session. His maiden Test five-wicket haul has ensured that the Pakistan fight back of the first day was not allowed to develop into a formidable score.

On a sunny start to the day, England took the new ball as soon as it was due after 80 overs. Initially the plan seemed to have failed, as the overnight pair of Moin and Youhana continued their good work of the previous day. Gough ran through his whole repertoire of bouncers, slower balls and off-spinners, but could not break the partnership.

However, in the 89th over, with a man placed for the shot, Yousuf Youhana hooked Gough to Thorpe at deep backward square leg, to be dismissed for 77. He had looked to be cruising to a second successive century and will be annoyed with himself for missing out.

The partnership had yielded 120 runs, the value of which was illustrated when Moin followed in the next over. Giles induced an edge that was held low down by Hussain at slip to send the Pakistan captain on his way for a crucial 65.

This brought in Akram, playing in his 100th Test. There was to be no fairy tale celebration for the Pakistan all-rounder though as he advanced down the wicket to Giles and was struck on the pads. The ball trickled back to Stewart behind the stumps who removed the bails at the second attempt. That was Giles' fifth wicket of the innings, fine reward for the Warwickshire man who has emerged as England's premier spinner.

Arshad Khan followed soon afterwards, White having him held in the slips as he pushed forward tentatively. However Saqlain proved to be a thorn in England's side once again. His batting at Lahore was crucial in helping Pakistan avoid the follow-on, and once again he added vital runs.

The last wicket stand with Kaneria inched Pakistan towards the 300. He was dropped by Thorpe, diving in front of Atherton, in the slips, but England will be the happier of the two sides, having taken four wickets and restricted Pakistan to just 55 runs in the morning session.