Third Test Match

England v Pakistan

Geoffrey Wheeler

Toss: Pakistan.

Hopes that this encounter would provide a worthy finale to the series were dashed by a pitch so slow in pace that bowlers were reduced to impotence.

There was some batting, with memorable innings from Majid and Zaheer for Pakistan, and Amiss for England, but a draw always looked the likely outcome.

England, in fact, had nothing else to play for once Pakistan occupied nearly two days amassing 600 for seven wickets after Intikhab had won the toss for the third time.

Before Amiss retired hurt with 178 to his name they did so attractively enough but thereafter Fletcher was so painstaking that he took seven hours forty minutes to reach three figures, the slowest first class hundred made in England. Only Peter Richardson, who batted eight hours eight minutes for his century in Johannesburg in 1956, made a slower hundred for England.

England made one change, Willis for Hendrick, and the Warwickshire bowler was an early sufferer at the hands of Majid who launched the Pakistan innings in thrilling fashion. Willis's first four overs cost 25 as Majid drove and pulled with effortless timing in a display of controlled aggression that was delightful to watch.

When Sadiq fell to a boundary catch in the 17th over there were already 66 runs on the board. Majid did not play a crude or unworthy stroke until he reached 98. Then, immediately following the afternoon break for drinks, he employed an ugly sweep against Underwood in search of his fourteenth 4 and was bowled.

Underwood was easily the best of England's bowlers, operating as an orthodox spinner in intelligent fashion, but he could not separate Zaheer and Mushtaq.

By the close of the first day Pakistan had taken the score to 317 for two, with Zaheer already past his hundred, having been missed at slip by Fletcher off Lloyd from the last ball before tea, when he was 74. Strangely it was Zaheer's first Test century since his 274 on début against England at Edgbaston in 1971.

He went on to reach 240, being sixth out with the score at 550. England managed one quick wicket with the new ball at the start of the second day, Arnold knocking out Mushtaq's middle stump to end a record third wicket stand of 172.

Zaheer and Asif Iqbal made 74 in the hour before lunch with a string of brilliant strokes, allied to fleet-footed running. With all the ground in use and the outfield lush there were numerous all run fours.

Greig's dismissal of Asif in first over after the interval slowed the scoring but Zaheer accumulated steadily and when he was finally dismissed after a stay of nine hours ten minutes, Intikhab led a final onslaught, twice hitting Old for huge sixes.

In thirty-five minutes batting before the close England lost Lloyd, taken at short leg, but on the Saturday the nightwatchman Underwood showed just how hard was the bowlers' task by staying for three hours before he was second out at 143.

Amiss played with calm authority from the start as England moved steadily towards the 401 needed to avoid the follow on. Underwood was not restricted entirely to defence. He produced some good attacking shots and it was not until Pakistan used their sixth bowler, Wasim Raja, that he was finally tempted into error.

Amiss gave the bowlers no hope at all. He reached his eighth Test match hundred -- the third against Pakistan -- in just over four hours. He had one narrow escape just before tea when an 80-yard throw from the twelfth man Aftab Baloch had him diving desperately for his crease after slipping at the start of a third run.

Amiss was 168 not out at the close when England had reached 293 for four, Intikhab having winkled out Edrich, and Denness having fallen to a running boundary catch by Imran Khan after hooking a bouncer from Asif Masood using the new ball.

Another bouncer halted Amiss on Monday when the crowd was over 10,000 even though the resumption was delayed until 2.15 following heavy rain. Amiss had added 10 runs when he mistimed a hook against Sarfraz and was hit on the right cheekbone. An X-ray revealed no serious damage but he had retired hurt leaving Fletcher to inch England towards safety.

It was a grim business. In five hours cricket 145 runs came from 72 overs, but play was not without incident. Pakistan frustration showed in the final over before tea. Sarfraz, his run-up interrupted by movement among pavilion spectators, threw the ball to the ground. His next ball was a fast full toss to Fletcher, who took a single. The following ball, a beamer, few past Greig's head without bouncing. The two glared at each other but umpire Bird moved quickly to restrain the bowler, who was advised to calm down.

England saved the follow-on after batting for 163.3 overs whereas Pakistan had made 600 in two overs more. When Intikhab bowled Knott he became the first Pakistan player to complete the Test double of 100 wickets and 1,000 runs for his country.

With England 438 for six at the start, the final day seemed doomed to be a drab formality and so it proved. The two and half hours before lunch were unutterably dreary. Pakistan, relying completely on pace bowling, delivered only 32 overs. England, in the persons of Fletcher and Old, added 82 runs. It was hard to tell whether the batting or the bowling was the more defensive. When Fletcher was finally run out for 122 he had laboured eight hours and thirty eight minutes.

Old passed 50 for the first time in Test cricket before the Pakistan leg spinners rounded up the tail. Amiss returned at the fall of the ninth wicket and added five more before he was caught off Intikhab, who finished with 5 for 116.

In the last two hours four Pakistan batsmen fell to lighthearted strokes, leaving the moribund pitch the only winner, but in a summer of so many downpours a really hard surface could not be expected. Attendance: 49, 780; receipts £37,725.

© John Wisden & Co