England take control

England took the game further away from Pakistan on Day 2, largely thanks to a magnificent hundred by Marcus Trescothick.

England began the day with the intention of finishing off Pakistan’s tail with the minimum of fuss. Andrew Flintoff opened the day with 2 dot balls to Inzamam Ul-Haq, completing yesterday’s unfinished over. Marcus Trescothick chose Matthew Hoggard to be his bowling partner with a relatively new ball.

With his third ball of the morning Hoggard struck, finding enough outswing to find the edge of Sami’s bat and Jones took a simple catch behind the stumps. Pakistan’s hopes rested firmly on their skipper’s shoulders, but he made an uncertain start to the day, his first runs coming from a leading edge to point.

Inzamam proceeded to score the day’s first boundary, with an awkward looking pull stroke off Flintoff. He brought up his well-deserved 50 with the very next ball with a glancing stroke down to fine leg.

Pakistan’s hopes of reaching 300 were quickly dashed though, Andrew Flintoff squared up Inzamam, finding the edge and Strauss just about held on at slip. Shabbir Ahmed, the number 10 batsman showed absolutely no signs of troubling the scorers, or even England’s fielders as he failed to lay bat on ball for any of his first 4 deliveries, before Flintoff put him out of his misery with a perfect yorker.

Shoaib Akhtar was the only Pakistani tailender who showed any real talent or application, and he was left stranded when Danish Kaneria slashed one to Giles in the gully, Pakistan were all out for 274.

Faced with a below par total England’s batsman knew making a big score would all but put Pakistan out of the game. Shoaib Akhtar opened the bowling as usual, and some less than commendable wicketkeeping from Kamran Akmal allowed England to get off the mark with 4 byes. Marcus Trescothick then scored the first runs with the bat, with a push to the cover boundary for 3. Strauss got off the mark next ball with a thick inside edge off his pads to square leg, which attracted a big appeal from Shoaib.

Mohammad Sami was greeted by 2 glorious shots from Strauss, but he got his revenge in the next over of his erratic spell. A swinging delivery rapped Strauss’s back pad, the players went up, and Simon Taufel duly obliged.

Next man in was Ian Bell, lucky to be in the side at the expense of the injured Michael Vaughan. Any nerves he did have were soon banished, as he and Trescothick took advantage of some wayward bowling from Pakistan with some crisp cover drives to take England to 72 at lunch.

Legspinner Danish Kaneria had Bell in a spot of bother after lunch. A big appeal in the first over back proved fruitless, whether or not the ball was hitting Kaneria had overstepped. A short ball in the next over was badly negiotated by Bell, chipping it in the air just a couple of yards short of mid-off. But Bell was able to gain some confidence next ball, a misfield from Shoaib Malik allowing him to score 3 runs, his first of the session.

Shoaib Akhtar was brought back following some decidedly unthreatening bowling from Shabbir Ahmed. His first ball, a short one on leg stumps was pulled away by Trescothick to the square leg fence. He followed this up with another short ball, this time outside the offstump and Trescothick effortlessly put this one away square on the offside.

Having gained in confidence Ian Bell was nearly run out following a bizarre sequence of events. After the batsmen declined to take a run a wild throw from Sami beat the ‘keeper, striking his captain at slip. The batsmen attempted a risky overthrow, but Bell was hesistant, and had the throw from slip struck the stumps instead of him, he would have been in trouble.

Pakistan thought they had a break through shortly afterwards. Danish Kaneria found sufficient turn to beat Trescothick’s defences and strike the pad, but Billy Bowden decided the ball was travelling down the leg side; a decision television replays showed was probably incorrect.

Having been given a life Trescothick took advantage, effortlessly lofting Kaneria over wide mid-off, bringing up his 50 in the process. Bell followed suit several overs later, a neat push to cover giving him his fifth test half-century, and his first overseas.

With the bowlers not threatening England were able to score runs without any real effort, and closed in the comfortable position of 174-1.

Shoaib Akthar came out all guns blazing after tea, and only his only carelessness cost Pakistan a breakthrough. With Bell failing to notice the sightscreen was out of position Shoaib bowled a terrific slower ball. Yorker length, it beat the unsighted Bell all ends up, bowling him through his legs. Shoaib wheeled away to celebrate with his team-mates, but he soon noticed a no-ball being signalled.

Part-time offspinner Shoaib Malik was preferred to Danish Kaneria at the other end, and Inzamam’s gamble nearly paid off. One off his offbreaks kept fairly low, and found the edge of Trescothick’s bat. The ball struck the pad of the wicketkeeper, who had no chance of reacting in time to catch it.

With the sightscreen back in place Shoaib attempted another slower ball, this time with his foot behind the line. Bell dealt with it much better, easing it down to third man for a single.

The eventual breakthrough came from the offspin of Shoaib Malik. He found enough turn and bounce to find Bell’s inside edge, and the ball looped up off his pad to Salman Butt at short leg. Bell’s 71 showed the selectors what he can do, and should pose a difficult selection dilemma if Vaughan is fit for the second test.

At this point Trescothick stepped up a gear, his aggression complementing the watchful Paul Collingwood. He completed his century, his fourth of 2005, with a fine sweep shot off Shoaib Malik. England’s highest runscorer in the warm-up games, Trescothick’s knock included some great shots, most memorably the lofted six off Kaneria.

Trescothick and Collingwood soon brought up their 50 partnership, with Collingwood only contributing 9. Towards the end of the day the Durham allrounder became increasingly defensive, and Shabbir Ahmed claimed his wicket in what was to prove the last over of the day.

After Trescothick and nightwatchman Hoggard successfully negotiated the next 10 balls the umpires came together. After a short discussion they offered England the light, which they had no second thoughts about accepting.

England’s score at stumps was 253-3, just 21 behind Pakistan’s total. With the explosive Pietersen and Flintoff still to come tomorrow could be a long day for Pakistan, as England try and push themselves into a winning position.

Pakistan 274 all out
Salman Butt 74, Inzamam Ul-Haq 53
Andrew Flintoff 4-66, Steve Harmison 3-37

England 253-3
Marcus Tresothick 135*, Ian Bell 71
Shabbir Ahmed 1-32

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