June 1, 2001

204 for 2 - A befitting reply by England

England were well on their way to giving more than a befitting reply to Pakistan's impressive total of 403, when play was abandoned for the day for rain. On 204 for 2 with Graham Thorpe (98) and Michael Vaughan (84) going great guns, punishing the Pakistan bowlers and piling up runs at a pace that could only be termed, fast and fluid.

The 2nd day scene was almost identical to the 1st day. Like Pakistan's start, England also lost two quick wickets then stemmed the rot and built-up a sizeable total to neutralize Pakistan's superiority. England, however, had the upper hand for losing fewer wickets. Pakistan's bowling was not very effective due mainly to the flat wicket. A victory in the match being crucial for Pakistan the bowlers shall have to put up a more concerted effort to achieve an early breakthrough on Day-3.

Earlier, Pakistan started briskly scoring 33 runs in 30 minutes before they were out for a challenging total of 403. Rashid Latif, who was perhaps aiming at scoring a century to celebrate his return to test cricket after a lapse of 4 years, was unlucky to be run out after scoring a precious 71. After yesterday's Inzamam century it was his contribution that provided respectability to Pakistan's total. Saqlain Mushtaq remained not out with a breezy 21 that included a towering six.

England got off to a shocking start, losing the opening pair of Marcus Trescothick and Mike Atherton with only 15 runs on the board, the attacking pair of Wasim and Waqar got one scalp each. Thorpe and Vaughan, put their heads down and brought some smiles on the depressed faces of the crowd by hitting a flurry of thrilling shots.

The pair took the total to 50 in 13 overs, going from strength to strength with every run they had lunch at 79 for 2. The 100 of the innings came in the 27th over and a little later they signalled a 100 run partnership. Thorpe completed his 29th half-century in tests and was followed by Vaughan when the score was 126 for 2.

It was excellent defensive batting by the two players. They took no risks but played powerful strokes on loose deliveries. The Pakistan bowlers maintained a good line but lacked penetration. Off-spinner Saqlain Mushtaq was introduced an over before lunch but was only able to contain the batsmen, posing no serious threat. The pitch was not providing much assistance to the bowlers.

The 5 main bowlers in the Pakistan's arsenal tried their best but failed to dislodge Thorpe and Vaughan and their partnership crossed the 150 mark in 270 balls.

At tea when England was 173 for 2, rain suspended play for about one hour. On resumption, the two batsmen got back into the tempo of scoring runs at a slow and steady pace. Since both of them were heading for centuries they took no risks and presented Pakistan a good example of 'straight bat play'.

There was another interruption for rain when England was at 204 for 2. Thorpe (98) and Vaughan (84) firmly holding the crease. The shower being heavy this time, the game was abandoned for the day.