Pakistan top order finds form in drawn game
Pakistanis 360 and 264 for 3 (Amin 73, Alam 68*) drew with Kent 259 and 150 for 3 (Denly 69, Shoaib Malik 1-17)
Crease occupation was the order of the day for Pakistan's top-order players as the tourists took time for essential batting practice on an excellent Canterbury pitch prepared for a three-day game that was always destined to end in a draw.
Though their talismanic skipper Shahid Afridi was unable to take advantage of ideal batting conditions - he failed to arrive at the St Lawrence Ground after travelling to London for scans on a niggling rib injury - the majority of his side filled their boots in posting 264 for 3 declared for an overall lead of 365. In Afridi's absence, acting captain Salman Butt called time on the visitor's innings just after 2.15pm, leaving his bowlers 43 overs either side of tea for a gentle work-out.
Butt allowed the pacemen to stretch their limbs and his spinners some time to exercise their spinning fingers, but the sublime playing surface offered them little or no assistance. The overall result was an inevitable stalemate, but at least Kent's makeshift openers Chris Piesley and Joe Denly posted the county's maiden century first-wicket stand this season to lead their side to parity at 150 for 3 when the teams shook hands on a draw.
Both home openers fell in the final throws, Denly for 69 to an ill advised sweep against a quicker delivery from Abdul Rehman then Piesley, seven short of a maiden first-class 50, to a fumbled catch at wicket from another sweep shot. At least the excellent weather throughout the game coupled with young, combative opposition allowed Pakistan to garner almost everything they would have wanted to from this tour warm-up fixture; their only concern of course; Afridi's side strain.
Coach Waqar Younis was quick to play down the injury, saying: "Our physiotherapist has just arrived back from London with Shahid Afridi and the scan showed a small muscle rupture in his side. He has been asked to rest for two days and have some treatment, then we will reassess things, but we're hopeful he will be fine."
The final day started with a near faultless batting performance from Fawad Alam, who cantered through the opening session to reach an unbeaten 68 with Umar Amin as the second-wicket partners added 141 in 36.4 overs.After posting an attractive 72-ball half-century, Amin finally went after 170 minutes for 73. Leaning back to pull a top-spinner from Mark Lawson, the left-handed top-edged gently to deep mid-wicket.
Alam's 50 came in a shade over two hours from 101 balls and with seven fours as Lawson, bowling in tandem with off-spinner James Hockley, started to restrict scoring opportunities and cause a few problems. Alam retired out during the lunch interval and Kamran Akmal (2) went soon after the resumption when edging an attempted push-drive off Lawson to Azhar Mahmood stationed at slip.
It was plain-sailing for the visitors thereafter as Shoaib Malik enjoyed 'centre practice' to score 48 from 58 balls without breaking sweat, while Mohammad Aamer showed his potential as an all-rounder by hitting 44 from 49. The teenager finished the innings in style, hitting Hockley for two successive sixes before striding off for the declaration.