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Anderson and Trescothick batter Pakistan to defeat

James Anderson: a wicket with his first ball, and then wrapped things up with a hat-trick Experience is the key, so the sages say, if England's young side are to compete with the best by the 2007 World Cup

England 189 for 3 (Trescothick 86) beat Pakistan 185 (Youhana 75*, Anderson 4-27) by seven wickets

James Anderson: a wicket with his first ball, and then wrapped things up with a hat-trick

Experience is the key, so the sages say, if England's young side are to compete with the best by the 2007 World Cup. But on today's evidence, nothing will ever be more effective than good old-fashioned inspiration. Leading the way in a magnificent team performance were James Anderson and Marcus Trescothick, two men in the most devastating form and frames of mind. Pakistan, 1-0 up in the series, were swept to an emphatic seven-wicket defeat in the second NatWest Challenge match at The Oval, with a full 28 overs to spare.
After winning the toss and choosing to bat, Pakistan lost Imran Nazir to Anderson's first delivery of the match, and had scrambled to 185 for 7 when Anderson returned to obliterate the tail with a glorious hat-trick, the first by an English bowler in one-day internationals. Abdul Razzaq, Shoaib Akhtar and Mohammad Sami were blown away in consecutive deliveries, leaving Yousuf Youhana high and dry on 75 not out.
On any other day, that might have represented the high-water mark of England's performance. But Trescothick has a point to prove after a winter of discontent, and he responded to Anderson's efforts with a quite magnificent innings of 86 from 55 deliveries. After prodding and poking for ten runless deliveries, Trescothick slapped Shoaib Akhtar for three fours in four balls and roared into overdrive. Such was Trescothick's dominance, that by the time he miscued an attempted pull off Razzaq and was caught behind in the 12th over (109 for 1), Vikram Solanki hadn't even reached double figures.
It was quite breathtaking stuff from Trescothick, who alternated between clumping cover-drives and dismissive pulls with barely a flicker of emotion. He bounded out of his crease to crack three fours off Azhar Mahmood, then laid into Mohammad Sami with an uncomplicated obliteration of his second over - four fours; two cover-drives, one pull and a sly flick over the slips to third man. He brought up his fifty from 37 balls, with a cut for four off Mohammad Hafeez, whom he then slammed into the upper tiers of the pavilion for six.

Marcus Trecothick lofts Shoaib Akhtar over the slips for six on his way to a 55-ball 86

Shoaib returned, but his express pace was a ticket to ride for Trescothick, who tickled him for six over third man to bring up England's hundred in the 11th over. But it was all too good to last, and after driving Mahmood for his 18th and final boundary, he top-edged a simple catch to Rashid Latif for 86 (109 for 1).
Solanki had made a meagre 8 by this stage, although in facing 16 balls he had been as much of a spectator as Pakistan's fielders. And though he was reprieved twice in two Shoaib balls, an edged no-ball and a drop at slip, he grew in confidence alongside Michael Vaughan and Andrew Flintoff, finishing on a composed 40 not out from a barely-pedestrian 49 balls. It was Flintoff, unsurprisingly, who applied the coup de grace, biffing six boundaries in his 13-ball 26.
England had baked their cake and Trescothick and Co. devoured it like refugees from the SlimFast plan. But the credit had to belong to another truly phenomenal performance from Anderson, the expectations of whom grow by the hour and still he is able to transcend the hype. Few believed he could ever surpass that performance against Pakistan in the World Cup, when he took 4 for 29 under the lights at Cape Town, but he did just that, and in a manner that Shane Warne and Ian Botham, the greatest show-stealers of the game, would have struggled to emulate.
His first delivery was a perfectly pitched seamer that straightened on Nazir to trap him plumb lbw (0 for 1). His last three were swift and spectacular. Abdul Razzaq (17) gave himself room to carve through the off side, but could only pick out Trescothick at mid-off, to end an important eighth-wicket stand of 33. Alhough Youhana remained, on 75 not out, he was powerless to prevent what followed.
Anderson's next delivery was full and swinging, and too good for Shoaib, who had clattered 43 from 16 balls on the last occasion he had faced England, at Newlands. This time, however, Shoaib attempted a flat-footed drive, and nibbled a catch to the wicketkeeper Chris Read (185 for 9). Sami faced up to the hat-trick delivery, but had no answer to a fast, straight yorker that crashed into middle stump and cued a frenzy of celebration as Anderson was swamped by his team-mates.
It was a joyful day for England's fast bowlers. Flintoff made amends for a rare lapse at slip by removing Mohammad Hafeez for 14, before Darren Gough reminded everyone what England have been missing in recent months, by taking two wickets in two deliveries, including Younis Khan for a first-ball duck (61 for 4). One of the wise old heads in this Pakistan side, Younis poked at a fast off-stump ball that fizzed through to Read, and his series record now reads - three balls, two wickets, no runs.
Sunday's match at Lord's will struggle to surpass the excitement of these first two fixtures, but if it comes close, north-west London will be in for a treat.