England collapse again

England XI 256 for 9 dec (Trescothick 124*) and 39 for 6 lead PCB Patron's XI 211 by 84 runs

England might have assumed that things would only get better after their first-innings collapse of 60 for 6, but they were left sorely disillusioned at the close of the second day at Rawalpindi. After a satisfactory bowling work-out had reaped important wickets for James Anderson, Paul Collingwood and Shaun Udal, England followed up with another catastrophic batting performance, losing three wickets in seven balls in the final overs of the day to close on 39 for 6, a lead of a mere 84.
England did rejig their batting order, letting Matt Prior partner Andrew Strauss at the top of the order, and giving Alex Loudon a chance at No. 3, but it was hardly mitigation for a dreadful display. Mohammad Irshad and Yasir Arafat used the new ball to perfection, zipping through a range of rusty defences to set up a remarkable shot at victory - remarkable, given that they had been up against a 14-man opposition.

By the close, Ian Bell and Collingwood were the not out batsmen - itself an intriguing battle within the greater struggle for survival, seeing as the two men are scrapping over a solitary middle-order slot. Collingwood, who bowled an energetic 11-over spell earlier in the day, would appear to be the man in possession at present, but whoever digs England out of this mess will probably earn enough brownie points to last the rest of the tour.

England's capitulation was swift and dramatic. Strauss fenced at his first-innings nemesis, Najaf Shah, and succumbed to the extra bounce and a good catch at slip (18 for 1); Loudon, after a strokeless 3 not out on Monday evening, was caught behind off a lifter from Irshad, before Vaughan fell lbw for the second time in the match, as Irshad again nipped one back into his pads (23 for 3).

Prior, pugnacious as ever, then heaved a short ball from Irshad to Arafat on the square-leg boundary, and suitably excited, Arafat followed up in the next over with two wickets of his own - Pietersen (10) and Jones (0). They were his fifth and sixth wickets of the match, and all of them have been bowled.

The late subsidence dramatically overshadowed a day in which England's bowlers had settled into a useful rhythm. Anderson, who is fighting hard to fill the sizeable shoes of Simon Jones, mixed the rough with the smooth to grab three of the first four wickets to fall, while Liam Plunkett chipped in with his first wickets in England colours. The Patron's XI had slipped to 79 for 6 at lunch, with Collingwood trapping Asim Kamal lbw for 14.

After lunch, there was a change of tempo, as England turned to their spinners. With Ashley Giles laid low with a stomach complaint, Shaun Udal was the first man to be offered his opportunity, and he did not disappoint, bowling with flight, loop and a hint of turn to grab all three wickets of the afternoon session.