Fan Following

First-person reports from the stands

England v Pakistan, second Test, Edgbaston, third day

The Pakistan supporters' bag, and a Gatting costume

The ground is under construction and the tickets are overpriced, but you won't complain if you get to sit in front of the Pakistan dressing room and also watch a brilliant rearguard effort

Saad Qureshi

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Zulqarnain Haider drives down the ground, England v Pakistan, 2nd Test, Edgbaston, August 8, 2010
Zulqarnain Haider: a find for Pakistan © Getty Images
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The game
Pakistan v England at Edgbaston. Having watched both Pakistan's victories against the Aussies in the Twenty20s here, I was anxiously waiting for a chance to watch a Test in Birmingham. Despite the unevenness of the first contest and first day's play here, the third day seemed intriguing. Despite the overpriced tickets, people are always excited when the circus rolls up and it was the same for Salman Butt's band of merry men.

Team supported
Pakistan. Like many before me, I bear witness to the mental scars of Pakistan cricket. But like a hopeless romantic I am pulled in for one more roll of the dice. The attraction of a frenzied Pakistan in full flow is often nullified by their ability to squander chances of success, and their frequent forays into the woeful. But on their day there is no other.

Key performers
Graeme Swann and Zulqarnain Haider. The latter's rearguard action was a pleasure to witness, particularly after he narrowly avoided the ignominy of a king pair on debut. His innings was a lesson to the batsmen above him in the order, as he showed guts and character. For England, the evolution of Swann from a feisty bits-and-pieces cricketer into a genuine match-winner is indeed a stunning turnaround. He spun the ball a lot and tore through the Pakistani top order in a manner his fast-bowling cohorts have become accustomed to. Undoubtedly, England hold an important trump card when they travel to Australia.

One thing I'd have changed
Haider scoring a century would have been a terrific way to end the day. Umar Akmal, perhaps utilising some common sense when deciding to pad up to Swann's sharp offbreaks? It would also have been nice to have more spectators in the ground, especially given the excellent weather throughout the day.

Accessories
The Pakistan Supporters' Bag: two horns (one as back-up), a flag, face paint and a newspaper. The newspaper is for reading during the customary collapse. However, horns were banned, to my dismay.

Interplay I enjoyed
Stuart Broad and James Anderson probing away in the morning to a resolute Azhar Ali and Imran Farhat. Also, Ajmal and Haider's fightback.

Filling the gaps
I read the Observer while listening to Rick Ross' "Teflon Don". An excellent effort from the Miami MC, if you like strong beats and a smooth flow. I also spent time offering explanations about the whereabouts of Younis Khan to the gentlemen next to me.

Wow moment
Just before close of play, a streaker decided to enter the field. Everything happened in slow motion. He lost his clothes. The stewards noticed. They proceeded to wrestle him down but he squirmed out from underneath to rapturous applause and was off. Excellent athleticism and a sharp turn of pace on show.

Player watch
The Pakistan players were seated behind my section and numerous fans, including my father, aimed questions at Waqar Younis and Salman Butt. Most questions centred around the top order's continual failings and they were met by sheepish looks and shoulder shrugs. We also sighted Mohammad Yousuf and Yasir Hameed, who changed outfits a few times. Also, somebody had the audacity to tell Kevin Pietersen to "go home" when he was fielding at third man. Hampshire perhaps?

Shot of the day
Azhar hit Broad for a delightful straight drive through mid-off in the second over of the day. The crisp contact with the ball echoed around the ground, mainly due to the unfinished building.

Crowd meter
Paying £60 a ticket in a half-built ground? Really?

Good atmosphere at Edgbaston but the stands were about three-fifths full, with spectators spread evenly around the ground. And that's a generous estimate. The few attempts at Mexican waves were resounding failures and the usual Barmy Army chants rang around at random points. There were great ovations for Ajmal and Haider's efforts. A lot of the England fans were keen to see Pakistan do well, given the one-sided nature of the series so far. Pockets of Pakistan fans were scattered here and there, but the lack of horns and hooters really hampered their efforts at sound effects.

Fancy-dress index
There was a Pink Panther in the crowd in the Eric Hollies Stand, providing the theme tune. Then a rotund middle-aged man with a silver goatee was accused of being in a Mike Gatting costume. Turned out it was Mike Gatting.

Entertainment
Kamran Akmal ran five laps of the outfield during the lunch break. Punishment for his failings in the last Test? May have been a typical masterstroke by Ijaz Butt. He then proceeded to put on a "catching clinic" with David Dwyer. Kamran with gloves on is always entertaining.

Tests or limited-overs?
Tests are the true examination of a cricketer, both physically and mentally. A crucial performance that goes a long way in determining the outcome is far more exhilarating in a Test than in any of the shorter versions.

Overall
It was a great day. The atmosphere was enjoyable and the weather excellent. As a Pakistan fan I was pleased with the first hour, but Swann's spell made me sink into my seat. It looked like it was all going to be over soon enough but Pakistan's lower order batting showed some real spine and attempted to make a contest of it. If the batsmen had put together a poor total in the first innings, say 170 or 180 as opposed to a pathetic one, there would be a serious game on our hands right now.

Marks out of 10
8. If Haider and Ajmal had remained at the crease at the close of play, the points would have been higher but the back-and-forth nature of the day made it worthwhile.

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Saad Qureshi lives in Birmingham and works in financial services. He is fanatical about all sports but saves an intense passion for Pakistan cricket. He has played cricket from a young age, as a fast bowler and as an Afridi-like batsman. Straight explosive. Shout outs to the family and the squad. They understand the fervour with which he follows his teams and put up with his highs and lows.

Tell us what you think. Send us your feedback

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Comments: 9 
Posted by   on (August 10, 2010, 16:38 GMT)

Very well written informative yet entertaining article. I'm an avid cricket fan from Tanzania and did not have the pleasure of watching the cricket live however Mr Qureshi has been successful in expressing the atmosphere of the day. It's articles like this that keep me coming back to cricinfo. Asante Sana (thank you very much)

Posted by   on (August 10, 2010, 4:20 GMT)

Congratulations to all Pak fans. But family loose again. and they will loose several times, and no body can sack them, because they are the ROYAL Family, RO-Y-AL!!!!!!!!!!!!! Mr. Ijaz Butt, why don't you confess that you are the one who ruined Pak cricket. Please do all Pak fan a favor, Resign from your post and before resigning you should do one thing that, Get rid of few players that are in your cover, Shoaib Malik should be out of all format of the games, Kamran Akmal should be out as well. Salman Butt should be out of the team if he doesn't perform as he is not performing right now. he is not illegible to be even in the team how can you make him a captain of the team. That would be very nice of you!!!!!!! YOUNIS KHAN, You will be back soon.

Posted by ZwanHunter on (August 9, 2010, 23:47 GMT)

England didn't ease to a 9 wicket win, England destroyed a very poor Pakistani team, again. The reason that people talk of the death of test cricket, and that talk kills me, is because of under-prepared and under-skilled opponents who seem would rather play the short version of the game than the thinking man's game. Pakistan, in my history, have a proud history of great tests cricketers. The empty seats at Edgbaston tell us all we need to know. A just above average England team has again beaten a very poor Pakistani team. I hope for the day that we will keep test cricket all going by having the world that plays cricket looking after the game. As it is right now, it is only England and Australia who care for the longer game. This is nonsense. Rise again Pakistan, rise again West Indies, and New Zealand, find another Hadlee. Let's make the best sport in the world the best sport in the world. Love to all.

Posted by   on (August 9, 2010, 21:49 GMT)

pakistan need SHOAIB AKHTAR.YASIR HAMEED.FAWAD ALAM(one down). mohammad asif and aamir need some support and i think shoaib akhar is best choice

Posted by pochard on (August 9, 2010, 20:37 GMT)

Brilliant. Very enjoyable article. Cricinfo should hire you (there are a couple they could get rid of to make room...)

Posted by avis1001 on (August 9, 2010, 15:27 GMT)

Though I am not England Fan but I would like them to Win Against Pakistan !!! Congrats to England and keep it up !!!

Posted by excricketer on (August 9, 2010, 14:29 GMT)

watched pakistan match live at edgbaston, it was shocking, the behaviour of the players on and off the field, dropping catches, and then Mr.Captain still laughing and joking after the drop catch. Mr.Kamran Akmal sitting on the bench, sarcastically clapping at the drop catch by Haider and then he was trying to show it to the spectators sitting behind him.

how low can you get? there is no professionalism, no respect for colleague or the people who pay money to come and watch these .....

england's fielding was good, they were constantly running from one position to another in between overs, i guess to keep them selves mentally alert, while pakistani players were leisurely walking from one position to another.

their attitude towards the game makes you angry,but I am not sure whether our whole society has become like this ( if you can't perform then you need to know some influential people to rescue you); plus may be their social back ground might play a role as well.

It's my opinion!

Posted by   on (August 9, 2010, 9:47 GMT)

Liked ur comment that on their (Pakistan) day there's no other. On any given day this current team can beat a team full of only Malcolm Marhsalls and Vivian Richards by an innings and 200 runs but then again, if Pakistan team is made up of only Imrans and Miandads can loose to a team full of Deepak Patels by an innings and 200 runs.

Posted by Emmaye on (August 9, 2010, 7:32 GMT)

Its all IF's and BUT(T)s... the latter being the ones letting all PAK down... Have we no batsmen in PAK. Bring both Y's back keep Haider and introduce a new FAST bowler, we will compete on a level footing. How can Ijas BUTT survive...in any industry he would have been sacked long ago.

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