England to field strong side in Lahore
After a woeful batting performance in the warm-up game against the Patron's XI in Rawalpini, Michael Vaughan, England's captain, has vowed to hit back with a stronger side in the three-day match against Pakistan A at Lahore beginning November 6.
"We will probably play our Test XI, because it is the only game we have now before the first match in Multan," Vaughan was reported as saying by Sporting Life. Yasir Arafat, the Pakistan allrounder who has represented Scotland in county cricket, took nine wickets in the match as the tourists struggled for runs. Totals of 256 - Marcus Trescothick making almost half the runs - and then 112 were definitely not encouraging for England.
Trescothick's unbeaten innings of 124 and 38 (from number nine) and Matt Prior's 50 were the only positives in a scorecard that read 14 single-digit figures in two innings. Apart from Trescothick's dominance, England's batsmen were twice a collective failure and it took a sudden surge of wickets from Liam Plunkett (4-16) and Ashley Giles (4-39) to give the England side a 52-run victory.
While Vaughan was critical of the pitch at Rawalpindi, it did leave him with much to think about before England's next match in Lahore. "We want more time in the middle but we obviously know that Test match cricket mentally is totally different," he said. "The last few seasons in England we have gone in with this so-called 'under-cooked' word. We seem to have done pretty well, though, and I don't see it as a massive worry because the mentality is totally different at Test level."
Despite Plunkett's heroics with the ball in Rawalpindi, Vaughan does not expect him to force his way into the Test side yet. "Liam bowled very well, used the conditions well and has a lot of potential. But to talk of him making his debut a week on Saturday, I think that is a bit too soon," said Vaughan. While equally impressed with Prior's wicketkeeping and batting, Vaughan did not voice any opinion on whether he would replace Geraint Jones, who had a torrid time with the bat and gloves. "He certainly seems to have the right sort of attitude to play at the top level, so he is going to be putting Geraint under pressure."
England will hope to get a boost from the arrival of Andrew Flintoff and Steve Harmison as they try to ready themselves for the first Test in Multan on November 12. "They are experienced members of the team, and it is always nice to have your full squad together," said Vaughan. "The Lahore game will be a big one, because everyone will be together - and it gives Freddie (Flintoff) and Harmy (Harmison) a chance to play in these conditions."