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August 30, 2006
There wasn't much more Pakistan's bowlers could have done after a pinpoint display in the field. After putting England into bat there was plenty of early movement for Asif and Shoaib. Andrew Strauss and Marcus Trescothick struggled to force the pace and the pressure accounted for both openers as they tried to make something happen. Strauss was cramped for room and top-edged a pull to square leg, then Trescothick gave himself room and toe-ended an ugly slash, leaving England in a common one-day pickle.
Pakistan continued to make headway when Asif removed Kevin Pietersen - who he'd struck on the helmet - for the third time in four innings, as he found the edge and Kamran Akmal held a low catch in front of first slip. Pietersen has not struggled with one single bowler the way he has with Asif and it is allowing Pakistan a significant hold over England's key batsman. Asif's first spell ended with the fine figures of 8-3-19-3.
With England on 51 for 3, Bell was left holding the innings together and showed the same form that brought him three centuries in the Test series. He benefited from a couple of edges - including one which burst through Younis Khan's hands at second slip on 9 - but also played with power through the off side. He reached a well-paced fifty off 71 balls, but lost Paul Collingwood just before the half-way mark as he was trapped plumb in front by Shahid Afridi's fourth ball.
Bell and Jamie Dalrymple steadied the innings with a measured stand of 68, but it was never at a pace to worry Pakistan. Between overs 25 and 35 they managed just a single boundary - and that resulted from a fumble by Shoaib. However, they at least kept the scoreboard ticking and Bell threatened to open his shoulders after being dropped by Afridi in his follow through.
England had six wickets in hand going into the last 10 overs, but Pakistan had Shoaib. Inzamam returned to his strike bowler and the comeback over brought two wickets and halted England in their stride. Bell's impressive innings was ended by a direct hit from mid-on and next ball Dalrymple had his off stump uprooted. The collapse continued when Chris Read slammed a return catch to Mohammad Hafeez, who bowled his 10 overs straight through and maintained control for Inzamam. In all, 18 overs from the spinners cost 69 runs as the batsmen refused to impose themselves.
Rikki Clarke, playing his first ODI since June 2004, handed Shoaib his second wicket when he scythed a catch to third man and Sajid Mahmood was his third. Darren Gough showed his full range of heaves and drives - in a useful final-wicket stand of 29 with Stuart Broad - but Pakistan would have been highly content to chase 203.
As it was they didn't get the chance. England will know they have got away lightly, as they'd shown precious little to suggest Pakistan could be restricted in their run chase. Broad bagged his first ODI wicket, trapping Shoaib Malik lbw in very similar style to the Twenty20 on Monday, and again showed few nerves on the international stage.
However, the bowlers and fielders were hampered by a damp outfield and Strauss didn't appear enamoured by the conditions. They didn't quite jog off the field, but were happy to head back to the dressing room and escape unscathed ahead of the second match, at Lord's, on Saturday.
Andrew McGlashan is editorial assistant of CricinfoFeeds: Andrew McGlashan
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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