It's that man Thorpe again
Despite slate grey skies and a blustery wind keeping the temperature down, Graham Thorpe illuminated the day and warmed a decent crowd with an innings of sparkling shots and dominance. The Surrey left-hander, undoubtedly England's main run threat, was ably supported by Michael Vaughan, who nestled comfortably into England's problematic No 3 slot, registering his highest Test score with calm authority.
These two came together with England having been pinned back by Pakistan's notorious combo of Wasim and Waqar. The much anticipated Lancashire duel between Wasim who graced Old Trafford for 11 years as the overseas player and Michael Atherton was a brief one. But it was Waqar who snared Atherton when he edged to Latif for four and England, in pursuit of Pakistan's fine first innings total of 403, were struggling at 15 for 2. Marcus Trescothick had looked in form but played inside a Wasim delivery and lost his off bail.
However, England portray a robustness and confidence that had not been evident until recently, and coach Duncan Fletcher has energised this team - these days England do not crumble like a chocolate chip cookie. Not only did Vaughan and Thorpe repair the damage, they did so with aplomb, repeating the tableau of yesterday and continued the run feast which has been the hallmark of this match.
Shots were sprayed all round the wicket, Thorpe hooking and cutting in style and he mercilessly ravaged his former Surrey colleague Waqar who went for five runs an over at one stage. Meanwhile the rather more refined Vaughan demonstrated a flawless technique honed on the seaming pitches of Headingley and he moved effortlessly closer to a maiden century.
It was a welcome contrast from the pace diet of yesterday to see master spinner Saqlain wheeling away from the Warwick Road end in a long unbroken spell punctured only by a rain break when an hour was lost just after tea. He enjoyed some turn and some moral success but was unable to break the partnership which had put on 64 by lunch, reaching 173 at tea. When rain finally brought the curtain down with just over 18 overs left, Vaughan and Thorpe had plundered 189 valuable runs with Thorpe two short of his first century in a Test at Old Trafford.
Earlier Pakistan had extended their overnight score to 403 all out, and once again Darren Gough was forced to kick the turf in frustration as Nick Knight spilled a chance at slip, the second to go down off Gough, Rashid Latif the escapee.
Latif didn't capitalise though; he wandered carelessly out of his crease in search of a single, Trescothick pounced and threw down the stumps. Next Caddick was smashed high over mid-wicket for six by Saqlain who biffed 21 unbeaten runs with some imaginative, if unorthodox shots, the fun ending when Gough trapped Waqar leg before.