Asif rips through England

With the series over, not many would have predicted a fiery Pakistan team ready to confront England, especially without the presence of a rested Shoaib Akhtar, but today they would have been proved wrong. A strong performance from the Pakistani seamers, especially the returning Mohammad Asif and Umar Gul, caused England to be bowled out for just 173.

Imran Kahn had said that Mohammad Asif is Pakistan’s brightest bowling talent at the moment, and the English audiences were treated by a masterclass in seam-bowling by Asif today: he swung the ball both ways, causing Marcus Trescothick to play and miss constantly, and pitched the ball up, showing discipline which the Pakistanis had not been able to muster in the entire series.

Alistair Cook top-scored for England with 40, but he was undone by Shahid Nazir’s yorker which beat him for pace. However, five wickets had already been taken by the time Cook fell, and England had only managed to put 112 on the board.

Trescothick became England’s first victim when he nicked to gully, Gul’s first wicket of four; Trescothick’s opening partner, Andrew Strauss, had only added 38 runs to his tally when Asif tempted an outside edge which was well taken by Kamran Akmal who dived in front of first slip.

Kevin Pietersen didn’t last a single delivery – he fell similarly to Strauss: edging behind from Asif’s bowling, delighting the Pakistanis.

The middle-order collapse continued when Paul Collingwood was trapped by Asif, bringing up the fast-bowler’s third wicket. Read managed to hold up the tail for a while, but his efforts were thwarted when he chopped the ball back onto his stumps.

With the Pakistanis finding reverse-swing, the tail could not put up a fight against the excellent Gul who wrapped up the innings quickly.

There was not much time for the Pakistanis to make their reply, but Imran Farhat managed to score a half-century before the close, although their progress was slowed by the retirement of Mohammad Hafeez, who pulled up at the end of a run, and the dismissal of an in-form Younis Kahn after a thin nick down the leg-side.

England 173
Alistair Cook 40, Andrew Strauss 38
Mohammad Asif 4-56, Umar Gul 4-46

Pakistan 70/1
Imran Farhat 57*, Mohammad Yousuf 12*
Sajid Mahmood 1-24

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