Pakistan triumph in gloom

Pakistan were dominant once again today, and unfortunately for England there was not enough rain to wash things out again. The start was delayed though, and there was another rain break after seven overs to reduce the match to 40 overs a side.

Once the skies had cleared, the Pakistani bowlers were able to reap the rewards of Inzamam Ul-Haq winning the toss in bowler friendly conditions. Shoaib Akhtar put them on top in the first over, producing an absolute beauty to dismiss Andrew Strauss. Over the next ten overs, both Shoaib and Mohammad Asif had all the England batsmen in trouble, and they were reduced to 44-4 by the sixteenth over.

Marcus Trescothick was Asif’s first victim. He’d survived twice already when edging the ball short of slip, but on the third occasion Younis Khan was able to take the catch. Shoaib was bowling quick and short at Ian Bell, forcing him back and could do nothing but push at a fuller one, edging it to Kamran Akmal.

In relatively poor form at the moment, Kevin Pietersen looked to show some promise, playing a couple of sweetly timed shots. However, he was once again dismissed by Asif before he was able to do any damage. In Asif’s last over – and the last of the PowerPlays, a hideously mistimed pull flew high in the air towards third man, while Rana Naved took an excellently judged catch.

At this point, Paul Collingwood and Jamie Dalrymple looked to get their heads down and build a partnership, with Pakistan’s best bowlers out of the attack. Abdul Razzaq and Shahid Afridi had other ideas though, claiming an lbw each to reduce England to 107-6.

This was where England’s best partnership would come. Chris Read and Rikki Clarke, both back in the side for this series for the first time since 2004, added 53 from 57 balls. They mixed some powerful hitting with sharp running and odd spot of cheeky improvisation.

Both fell attempting to push things on in the death overs, and with Shoaib back in the attack England’s tail didn’t last long. Jon Lewis’ run out in the last over brought the innings to a close on 166.

Pakistan needed only just over four an over, but they were pegged back by an excellent new ball spell by Jon Lewis. Replacing Sajid Mahmood, he bowled his eight overs on the trot, conceding just 11. He also claimed both Pakistani openers, both caught behind. He could have had a third wicket, but when Younis Khan edged behind on 15, Billy Doctrove called a no-ball, although replays showed Lewis’ foot may have been fractionally behind the line.

Lewis lacked support however, Gough and Broad both bowled too short, the Leicestershire youngster found it hard to adjust to the famous slope in his first game at Lord’s. Once Andrew Strauss took off his frontline bowlers, the prolific pairing of Mohammad Yousuf and Younis Khan found the going much easier. Paul Collingwood was comfortably pushed around for singles, while Rikki Clarke strayed short far too often, and was emphatically smashed away to the boundary on several occasions.

Shortly after bringing up a classy half-century, Younis fell to Rikki Clarke. The Surrey all-rounder drifted onto his pads and Younis flicked him high in the air towards midwicket. It looked like six, but Kevin Pietersen took a smart catch inches inside the rope.

Despite this, the match was still Pakistan’s. In fading light, Inzamam Ul-Haq smashed 42 off 26 balls. He seemed unfazed by the gloom, smashing the seamers through the leg-side with ease. A typically elegant Mohammad Yousuf cover drive ended proceedings, and Pakistan took a 1-0 lead in the series.

England 166 all out
Rikki Clarke 39, Paul Collingwood 35, Chris Read 30
Shoaib Akhtar 4-28, Mohammad Asif 2-10, Abdul Razzaq 2-30

Pakistan won by 7 wickets

Pakistan 169-3
Younis Khan 55, Mohammad Yousuf 49*, Inzamam Ul-Haq 42*
Jon Lewis 2-11, Rikki Clarke 1-37

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