May 12, 2001

Pakistan toil in the sun as Walker and Key pile on the runs

Mark Pennell of the Kent Messenger Group
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Pakistan were given a stiff work-out ahead of Thursday's First Test at Lord's as Kent dominated day one of this Vodafone Challenge clash in Canterbury.

Robert Key
Robert Key
Photo © Paul McGregor CricInfo

Kent recovered from the depths of 9-2 inside four overs to post a hugely impressive 313 for five declared from 85 overs, built around a birthday century for 22-year-old England A opener Rob Key.

The tourists' opening pair of Saeed Anwar (32) and Saleem Elahi (4) batted beautifully throughout the 11 overs remaining in the day to see Pakistan to the close on 41 without loss and an overall deficit of 272.

The first shock of the day came with the withdrawal of Pakistan skipper Waqar Younis who, after complaining of a sore throat and high temperature, visited a local doctor to be handed antibiotics and a three-day rest.

Acting skipper Inzamam-ul-Haq surprised many by electing to bowl first on a flat St Lawrence pitch and on the hottest day of the English summer to date.

Yet the decision appeared fully vindicated when young paceman Mohammad Sami nipped out David Fulton and Ed Smith in his opening two overs.

But Kent re-grouped through Key and Matthew Walker and a county record stand of 207 for the third wicket that lasted 53 overs.

Key, who became the first Kent batsman to score a century against Pakistan since the late Colin Cowdrey hit 105 here in 1974, batted for 233 minutes and hit 16 fours until an expansive drive against Wasim Akram ended up in the hands of Inzamam at second slip.

Walker looked set to join him in three figures but, after reaching 98 from 188 balls, he chopped on to give Saqlain Mushtaq the first of his two scalps.

One run later James Hockley nicked his third ball to wicketkeeper Rashid Latif to make it 250-5.

It proved Pakistan's last success of the day as Kent's Paul Nixon (42) and James Golding (21) piled on the pressure with an unbroken sixth wicket stand of 63, before Kent's stand-in captain Min Patel declared the innings.

Afterwards Robert Key admitted he had hugely enjoyed the stand with Walker.

"Matthew and I get on well together, and it was nice to get a big partnership like this. We've got 50 stands together and a few hundred partnerships," he said.

"I got 98 against Yorkshire and when I got into the nineties I was thinking about that. I was on 96 for a long time in that match so it was good to get through to the hundred so quickly this time so the nerves didn't have time to set in."