|Photos||Video & Audio||Blogs||Statistics||Archive||Shop||Mobile|
At Faisalabad. March 12, 13, 14, 16, 17. Drawn. This match reverted to the familiar pattern of the sub-continent with only twenty wickets falling at an average of 56 runs each. Dilley and Sarfraz were the only bowlers to take more than two wickets, whereas there were three centuries and eight other scores between 50 and 100. Yet there was much more to it than those figures may imply.
Willis, suffering from food poisoning, withdrew on the morning of the match, which, combined with Botham's departure and Cowans's groin injury, left Gower in charge of an attack reduced to four main bowlers, of whom Dilley, sunken-eyed and deathly pale, was at the start by no means fully fit.
It seemed a near certainty in the circumstances that England would lose the toss and that having done so they would face an uphill task to save the match. The first part of this prognosis proved accurate, Pakistan recovering from 70 for three to declare at 449 for eight on the second evening. However, with the threat of Qadir lessened by the pitch's lack of bounce and pace, England responded so determinedly that they not only declared with a lead of 97 but briefly brought Pakistan under pressure in their second innings. It was a spirited display by a side under siege both on and off the field, and nobody emerged with greater credit than the acting-captain. In his second Test in charge, Gower handled his reduced attack with skill and understanding. This, added to an innings of 152, top score on either side, made him a deserving winner of the match award.
Over-confidence was at the root of Pakistan's early setbacks. But with Salim Malik and Wasim Raja making hundreds, Zaheer 68 and Qadir his first fifty in a Test, the fourth, fifth and sixth wickets added 346. Twenty-year-old Salim, batting six and a quarter hours, combined sound defence with acute awareness for the scoring chance, hitting sixteen 4s with strokes all round the wicket. Wasim hit two 6s and fourteen 4s, running to his hundred with strokes that whistled to long-off, cover and square leg in a single over from Foster.
England's highest score in Pakistan was founded on an opening stand of 127 between Smith and Gatting, the latter promoted because Fowler was unwell. Lamb, also under the weather, was the only failure in an innings that contained two further century partnerships; the seventh, of 167 between Gower and Marks, was a record for England against Pakistan. Gower, surviving at 37 an apparent catch off bat and pad to silly-point off Qadir, bowling round the wicket, otherwise played with some serenity for just over seven hours, hitting fourteen 4s and taking his Test aggregate past 4,000 runs.
The declaration left England three and a half hours to achieve the impossible. Mudassar and Mohsin fell quickly, the latter bowled by Dilley at his fastest, but Salim was soon batting brilliantly again company with Zaheer.