November 30, 2000

Late wickets give Pakistan control of second Test

For the second consecutive day the initiative gained by England's excellent effort was lost in the final stages. Within the space of three overs, England lost two vitally important wickets and Pakistan were back in the game.

Having dismissed Pakistan in the first innings for 316, when there seemed a likelihood of a much higher total on this batting wicket in Faisalabad, England were progressing comfortably on 105 for one when two wickets fell within a run of each other.

England had begun their first innings half-an-hour after lunch with Michael Atherton and Marcus Trescothick giving a solid start despite a fiery spell of bowling from Wasim Akram.

Trescothick was more forceful during his hour at the crease, taking runs comfortably off the medium-fast bowling of Abdur Razzaq whose first four overs conceded seventeen. He was replaced by the leg-spinner, Danish Kaneria, who is making his debut in this second Test, and Trescothick promptly took ten of his first over.

Kaneria's second ball was sent high over the mid-wicket boundary by Trescothick, who two balls later, hit him for four, taking his score to 29 and the total to 45. But it did not seem to upset the 18-year-old lad who bowled a good second over and then with the second ball of his next over dismissed Trescothick.

The batsman was deceived by the googly. As he came out to drive, the ball spun away from the left-hander and the wicket-keeper Moin Khan was quick to take the bails off.

At tea England were 63 for one with Atherton and Nasser Hussain batting cautiously. The scoring was slow in the final session with Pakistan employing three spinners but with three days remaining in this match it was important for England to build a large total. They seemed well on the way towards it shortly before close of play but Pakistan then struck twice.

Saqlain Mushtaq ended Atherton's long innings of 163 minutes when on 32, he was held by a diving Yousuf Youhana fielding at silly mid-off. This brought out the nightwatchman Ian Salisbury to join Hussain. Two overs later, with the total on 106 for two, came the controversial dismissal of Hussain.

Umpire Steve Bucknor gave him out lbw, when the replay showed clearly he had edged the ball on to his pad. The fact that it was a very thick edge made it all the more unfortunate for the batsman who, although surprised at the decision, walked off showing considerable restraint. At close of play, two overs later, England were 110 for three.

Earlier England's bowlers had done well after Pakistan resumed their innings on the second morning on 243 for five. England needed an early breakthrough and while the first hour's play did not produce a wicket, the next 45 minutes brought four wickets.

Youhana had added sixteen to his overnight score of 61 when Darren Gough had him caught at deep backward square leg and Pakistan were 271 for six. On the same score, in the next over, Ashley Giles found the outside edge of Moin Khan's bat after he had taken his overnight score to 65.

Giles then had Akram stumped and Arshad Khan fell to Craig White. Pakistan had slumped to 28 for nine. Gough wrapped up the Pakistan innings with Saqlain's wicket. He made 34 and Gough finished with three for 79 but Giles' excellent bowling gave him Test best figures of five for 75 from 35 overs of well-controlled spin bowling.

England coach Duncan Fletcher later admitted that the day had been "spoilt" for England by the loss of the late wickets, particularly the manner of Hussain's departure.

"I think he (Hussain) is a little bit disappointed," Fletcher said. "He had battled through. He and Michael Atherton had done a good job. Obviously losing Michael was a bit of a down note and then suddenly Nasser getting out like that meant we were three down, which spoilt the day to a degree."

Fletcher remained pleased with his team's performance over the course of the day however. "It's been a good day for us. We got the five wickets just after lunch and then batted well. There's a lot of cricket left in the game and if we can get a few runs tomorrow we can put the pressure back onto Pakistan."