Pakistan in total control

Mohammad Sami capped another fine day for a resurgent Pakistan side when he grabbed the vital wicket of Marcus Trescothick shortly before the end of play to put his team completely in charge. In reply to the hosts’ imposing total of 462, England have subsided to 113 for 3, and their middle order will have to bat significantly better than at Multan if they are to avoid the follow-on. Earlier, the Pakistani batsmen continued to humiliate England’s much vaunted attack, as their lower order took turns to slog them all over Faisalabad. Having bottled the first test, this looks set to be the first ever England side to lose two tests in a series in Pakistan.

England knew that if they were able to make the new ball count, then they would still have a chance of dismissing Pakistan for around 350, and the good news was that they only had to wait until the sixth over before making their first breakthrough. The bad news was that by that stage Pakistan had already added 46 runs. They had probably expected Afridi to start rather more circumspectly than yesterday, when he was able to take advantage of tired bowlers using an old ball. If so, they were in for a rude awaking, with Hoggard in particular coming in for some fearsome stick. The Yorkshireman’s first overs felt more like the start of a Twenty20 game than a test match, with three consecutive deliveries being blitzed for a four and two sixes by Afridi. With Inzamam also quick out of the blocks today, Pakistan were racing along at nine-an-over, and absolute carnage seemed the order of the day. It came as something of a surprise when Hoggard found the edge of Afridi’s bat, with the resultant nick just carrying to Trescothick at first slip. His innings of 92 had only taken 85 deliveries, including six sixes and another six fours. In theory, armed with the new ball and needing only one more wicket to be among the bowlers, England had a chance. However, Afridi’s onslaught had shifted the game massively in Pakistan’s favour psychologically.

However, they did now take a while to consolidate, and the next nine overs only realised 23 runs as Inzamam and Kamran Akmal saw off the new ball quite comfortably. Before long, the Pakistani captain had reached his 23rd test hundred and looked set to grind England into the ground for as long as he wanted. Instead, having reached 109, he was removed courtesy of a controversial decision by the third umpire. Facing Harmison, he played a ball back to the bowler who, sensing that the batsman was out of his crease, threw down his stumps. Inzamam, who in fact was not out of his ground, jumped out of the way of the throw, which, according to the laws of the game, means that he should not have been given out. The third umpire felt otherwise, and astonished everyone by sending him on his way. His wicket did indeed mean that England were now able to have a pop at the infamously long Pakistan tail, but this time they didn’t find the experience enjoyable. Naved-ul-Hasan only took 22 balls to reach 25 before playing on to Harmison and Sami bashed a merry 18 from 16 balls before sending a return catch to a visibly relieved Giles. Kamran Akmal took his turn to dish out the punishment before edging Giles to Jones for 41 and Shoaib Akhtar’s two scoring strokes took him to 12 before he skied Harmison to Flintoff shortly after lunch. Pakistan’s last four wickets had added 93 runs and, despite the nature of the pitch, their total of 462 meant that all the pressure was now on England.

Given the lack of runs from their middle order, England needed a good start from their openers, who reached 33 without any real alarms. However, they then lost two quick wickets to Naved-ul-Hasan, with both Strauss and Vaughan being bowled by the newcomer. Strauss’ wicket really was a gift. With only 12 to his name, he attempted to pull a ball that simply wasn’t short enough and only succeeded in demolishing his stumps with the resultant edge. Vaughan, on the other hand, was undone by terrific yorker that bypassed his attempted push to leg, and his side were in real trouble at 39 for 2. Trescothick was still there, of course, albeit not looking as solid as at Multan.

Worryingly for England, he looked vulnerable outside off stump and, although scoring quite freely, occasionally came close to perishing. He was joined by Bell, who immediately scored briskly. The pair took the total to 64 by tea and, after the distraction of an exploding gas canister that raised fears of all sorts of dreadful possibilities, both looked in good touch in the final session. Bell immediately used his feet well to the spinners, and Trescothick settled back into solid mode. As the day drew towards an early close, the run rate slowed down but England were just delighted to see their best two batsmen from Multan survive. Then came Sami’s crucial breakthrough, as England’s best batsman fell to a faint inside edge trying to cut a ball that was a fraction to close to him. The hosts will now fancy their chances enforcing the follow-on and establishing an unassailable 2-0 series lead.

Pakistan 462
Inzamam 109, Afridi 92, Yousuf 78, Harmison 3 for 85

England 113 for 3
Trescothick 48, Bell 36*, Naved-ul-Hasan 2 for 23, Sami 1 for 22

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