A day of fluctuating fortunes

Col (Retd) Rafi Nasim

November 30, 2000

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After demolishing Pakistan for 316 runs through an extremely tight bowling-fielding combination, England took a cautious start but eventually succumbed to Pakistan's spin. They lost 3 precious wickets to the duo of Saqlain Mushtaq and Danish Kaneria in the last hour of play. The day ended with England at 110 for 3, the honors almost evenly shared.

The game started with the overnight's not outs Yousuf Youhana and Moin Khan resuming the innings with Pakistan at 243 for 5. England attacked with the combination of Craig White and Ashley Giles on a pitch providing equal support to spinners and the pace bowlers. The new ball was taken after the expiry of 80 overs while the batsmen at the crease crossed the 100 run partnership after being together for 227 balls.

England met the first success of the day when Youhana lifted a rising delivery from Darren Gough and was caught by Graham Thorpe at square leg after playing an invaluable innings of 77. Youhana was so well set at the crease that he had no need to play such an atrocious shot. Moin Khan was next to leave after playing a masterly innings of 67. The dismissal of the two stalwarts rendered Pakistan to 271 for 7. Both the batsmen who raised the Pakistanis innings from ruins to a position of respectability literally threw away their wickets.

The remaining players namely Saqlain Mushtaq, Wasim Akram, Arshad Khan and Danish Kaneria were out one after the other. Saqlain was the only one among them who played the gem of an innings scoring a valuable 37. Pakistan was all out for 316 runs. The England bowlers dominated the show throughout the day, Ashley Giles leading the battery with 5 for 75 followed by Darren Gough 3 for 79. Apparently it did not look to be an impressive total in the present era of tall scoring matches but with England losing 3 wickets for 110 runs later, it appeared safe.

Though Pakistan's total was not a daunting one, England some how played a dismal innings. The first three batsmen Mike Atherton, Marcus Trescothick and skipper Nasser Hussain though a class by themselves were caught in a groove. They only came out of it when ousted by the Pakistani spinners.

Trescothick was the first to be out after playing a solid knock of 30. A wave of jubilation gripped the atmosphere when young Kaneria claimed his first wicket in test cricket. On a lovely leg break he drove a well dug Trescothick out of the crease to be smartly stumped by Moin Khan.

After a long wait and hectic efforts Pakistan met with the 2nd success when Atherton was out after playing a patient innings of 32 rendering England to 105 for 2. The 3rd success came immediately after, when Nasser Hussain not being able to sustain the spinners pressure was trapped LBW by Saqlain, for a painstaking innings of 23 scored in 102 balls.

The play ended with England at 110 for 3. Saqlain with 2 wickets and Kaneria with one were the successful bowlers. Though it was a day of fluctuating fortunes, the honors seem to be equally shared.

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