Day 1 - with a fabulous 370 for 8 Pakistan take command
Despite a dismal start, tumbling to 2 for 39, Pakistan ended the day with a fabulous score of 370 for 8. It was great to finally see a magical transformation of Pakistan's batting, facing up to the England speedsters with courage while destroying their 'danger men' image built at Lord's.
A masterly partnership of 141 runs between Inzamam (114) and Younis Khan (65) laid the real foundation for Pakistan's big innings. Inzamam gave a superb display of batsmanship, punishing every bowler coming in front of him. Today Incidentally England's fielding was not as impressive as at Lords.
Then followed another excellent partnership of 53 between Rashid Latif and Azhar Mahmood. Rashid, however, continues to hold the fort with absolute command and Pakistan is quite likely to cross 400 runs if he stays at the wicket till end of the innings. His partner, Saqlain Mushtaq has the tenacity to give the support for a long stand. All day Pakistan's electrifying scoring rate was a spectacular feature as loose balls were punished for 51 fours and 2 sixes.
Earlier Pakistan won the toss and elected to bat on a rainy morning. Waqar thought the pitch to be good for batting against some commentary box comments that conditions were ideal for bowling.
It was an inauspicious start though, with Pakistan paying the price for promoting Abdur Razzaq to the opener's slot, an experiment not suited to the occasion. Razzaq was dropped in the slips on the first ball he faced and in the next over was bowled by Andy Caddick.
Faisal Iqbal, another youngster on trial, offered an easy catch and departed after scoring 16 runs bringing Pakistan down to a petty 39 for 2. The two best batsmen in the side Saeed Anwar and Inzamam-ul-Haq, got together to pull the side out of crisis. Hitting sparkling shots all round the wicket, they hoisted 50 of the innings in 13 overs.
Toying with a shoulder high delivery by Caddick outside off, in the last over before lunch, Saeed was the next victim. After scoring a valuable 29 Saeed asked for his exit on a ball that could have been 'well left' showing that Caddick has that ability to extract extra bounce and Pakistan was 86 for 3.
Yousuf Youhana also ranked among the top Pakistan batsmen was out in similar fashion, repeating his Lord's performance of dangling his bat and offering a catch behind the stumps. It seemed the batsmen had not learnt the Lord's lesson. By earning 3 out of the 4 scalps Caddick was now in full cry and playing havoc with the ball. Pakistan's 100 came in 23 overs but only after losing 4 wickets.
Inzamam completed his breezy but beautiful 50 in 69 balls with 9 exciting shots to the boundary. He was also the one to hoist the 50 and 100 of the Pakistan innings with sizzling shots to the square-leg boundary. Earlier in his innings he completed his 5000 runs in test cricket.
Having stemmed the rot, the pair of Inzamam and Younis Khan raised Pakistan's score to 200 in 48 overs with Younis completing his 50 in 89 balls. Something new for England bowlers was the punishment they received in the form of fours and sixes.
Playing aggressive cricket, Inzamam completed his glorious century (his 14th in tests) in 135 balls with the help of 16 fours and a six, but a little later, lost his partner Younis Khan trapped lbw by Hoggard after a fine innings of 65. At 233 for 5 Pakistan had maintained a remarkable run rate of over 4 per over and the partnership had yielded 141 precious runs.
Hoggard struck again when he claimed the prized wicket of Inzamam after he had played a flawless innings of 114, laying a solid foundation for Pakistan, now at 255 for 6.
Rashid Latif and Azhar Mahmood batted valiantly raising the total to 308 with a useful partnership of 53 when Azhar Mahmood became Hoggard's 3rd victim after scoring 37.
Rashid Latif and Wasim Akram produced another valuable partnership of 49 when Wasim left after scoring 16. Pakistan was 357 for 8 with Rashid Latif in full command after having completed his half-century.
Play ended after a full quota of 90 overs with Pakistan at 370 for 8 with Rashid Latif holding the crease with a confident 64. Andy Caddick and Mathew Hoggard were England's star bowlers sharing 3 wickets each. All credit too for England's pacers who had toiled all day on a reasonably batting friendly pitch, as it turned out to be. Their perseverance and effort right to the last ball was a remarkable feature of the day.