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July 29, 2010
After the high of Headingley, Pakistan's new-found confidence took something of a battering on the first day at Trent Bridge, as a combination of missed chances, squandered reviews and a double-hundred partnership between Eoin Morgan and Paul Collingwood conspired to take the game away from them. Nevertheless, on a flat deck that looks very good for batting, Pakistan remain confident of being able to reply in kind.
"It has been a very tough day for us today, but days come like this," said their rookie batsman, Umar Amin. "We tried our best but unfortunately we didn't get wickets at crucial times. But we'll try to come back again tomorrow. It will be a new day and we'll try to stick to the basics. There's not much in the pitch, but we'll try to restrict them to as little as possible."
At 118 for 4 in the first hour after lunch, Pakistan had an opening into England's middle order, with Collingwood and Morgan forced to graft for their runs against a dangerous moving ball. But crucial opportunities went begging courtesy of the keeper, Kamran Akmal, who was positioned too deep to collect a low nick when Morgan had made just 5, and later made a hash of a stumping with Collingwood still short of his half-century.
"We were in a good position, but unfortunately we gave it away," said Umar. "Eoin Morgan played a fantastic innings, but it was lucky that as soon as he came, Aamer got a snick but it didn't carry. Inshallah we'll come back tomorrow and try to get him out, because all of us tried very hard and we created half-chances, but we weren't able to capitalise on them."
Pakistan's morale dipped even further when they used up both of their reviews in the space of five minutes, as Kevin Pietersen survived a referral for lbw and caught-behind in quick succession. Akmal, in his capacity as wicketkeeper and senior player, was the key man in persuading his team to go to the third umpire on both occasions, but Umar believed the calls were justified.
"I think the review system is good when it goes in your favour," he said. "I thought at the time they were out, but unfortunately, they weren't, so I just consider it a hard day at the office. The senior players gave their opinions about those incidents, and it was the keeper who was the main man, but he's a very tough man and he'll come back tomorrow and try to compensate with his batting. I'm sure he'll do good tomorrow."
Morgan also had a brush with the review system in the course of his innings, when on 78 he was adjudged lbw as Danish Kaneria came round the wicket. "It was the first time I've used it, so it's been a bit different," he said. "I walked down the wicket and Colly said I think you should review it, so that knocked it on the head.
"The important thing is communication between the two batsmen, and being honest about it," he added. "If it feels natural then refer it, because the angle he was coming from, it was going to struggle to hit the stumps."
Pakistan have a big challenge ahead of them if they are to get back into this match, but under Salman Butt and through their exploits against Australia, they currently have the spirit to overcome adversity. At the close, the players went into a huddle on the boundary's edge, to reflect on a performance that hadn't gone to plan, and to start the process of regaining some measure of control.
"In cricket you learn every new day," said Umar. "We are a young unit, and we're becoming more and more united. We back each other and our captain, and we're becoming a very good unit. I think this is the perfect pitch for batsmen, so we'll try to make full use tomorrow. The key on this pitch is to stay on the front foot and manage the ball there. It won't be very difficult tomorrow."
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