Test Match perfectly poised for thrilling final day
Four days have now been completed of quite splendid Test cricket, played on one of the finest pitches seen in England for many years. The game is poised for a fascinating final day and beautifully balanced with England overnight on 85 without loss.
Michael Atherton had to endure a fearsome examination from his old colleague Wasim Akram who peppered him with a series of shortpitched deliveries but both he and Marcus Trescothick stood firm. Waqar Younis was expensive but Saqlain turned several deliveries past the outside edge of the England left-hander which will give Pakistan significant hope for tomorrow. There were several close calls, and a handful of pleading appeals, but to Pakistan's dismay both umpires remained unmoved.
Trescothick helped himself to a final dessert with consecutive boundaries from the last two balls of the day. He needs two for his half-century tomorrow morning and England require a further 285 runs to win from a minimum of 90 overs.
The day's play, once again, had everything. Magnificent batting, plenty of boundaries, quick bowling and fortunes always in the balance.
Inzamam and Yousuf Youhana had resumed in the morning and they moved their partnership serenely on to 141, Inzamam repeating some of the wonderful strokes of his first innings century. There was fluent driving, clips through mid-wicket and he was particularly harsh on anything short - one memorable six over mid-wicket off Caddick had the large crowd roaring their delight.
Yousuf, also began to find his form and timing, but history repeated itself within 24 hours when both players in a big partnership departed inside six balls. Hoggard deceived Inzamam with a slow off cutter and Youhana was adjudged to have gloved a snorter from Caddick to Stewart, though TV replays showed that the ball had actually touched the helmet. Similarly, Younis Khan was unfortunate to get the nod from umpire Shepherd, lbw to Cork when he probably had nicked the ball on to his pad.
The new ball was taken and Pakistan took the initiative. Although Caddick yorked Azhar, Wasim Akram flayed Gough, Caddick and Hoggard to every part of his beloved Old Trafford. Caddick was removed from the attack with figures of one for 16 from his two overs with the new ball. Driving, and pulling with savage intensity, the Pakistani icon established his team as the favourites to win at this juncture.
A partnership of 50 with Rashid Latif, and some slogging from Waqar and Saqlain at the end ensured that England would require 13 more than their first innings score to emerge as winners in this magnificent Test Match.