Cricket: Flintoff forces hand of selectors

England 291 in 50 overs Pakistan A 121 in 35 overs England win by 119 runs
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The Independent Online
ENGLAND COMPLETED their week-long stay in Lahore by recording another comprehensive victory over Pakistan A and gave their broadest hint yet about their thinking for this summer's World Cup.

Yesterday's 112-run success followed Saturday's eight-wicket win over the same opposition and they leave for Dubai today for the Coca-Cola Cup tournament in Sharjah. But captain Alec Stewart's absence from the field "as a precaution", having injured his groin while contributing 73 to England's imposing total of 291 for 4, forced the tourists into appointing a temporary captain during the Pakistan reply.

The obvious candidate was Adam Hollioake, captain of England's one-day team less than a year ago, but the emergence of Andrew Flintoff in competition for his place prompted the selectors to hand the armband to the experienced Neil Fairbrother. It was a clear message from chairman of selectors David Graveney that Hollioake is far from assured a place in England's World Cup starting line-up and an indication of how cemented Fairbrother is in the selectors' thoughts.

"We haven't been pressed by the World Cup authorities to name a vice- captain although we had a meeting about it before this trip," explained tour manager Graveney.

"Andrew Flintoff's emergence has caused competition for places at number six and seven and obviously it would be preferable to have a vice-captain who is a regular in the side."

Fairbrother, who captained Lancashire in 1985, had to prove his captaincy credentials under difficult circumstances with two interruptions for floodlight failure prompting a reduction in Pakistan's total to 232 off a minimum of 40 overs.

The two delays, caused by locals flying kites with copper wires nearby which sparked a short circuit when they collided with the banks of lights, upset England's composure but had the same effect on the Pakistan batsmen and Graeme Hick exploited the opportunity to further his claims as a sixth bowler this summer.

Under-used by both Worcestershire and England as an off-spinner for the past few years, Hick took centre stage without Robert Croft in the side and claimed 5 for 19 to leave little doubt about the outcome.

He firstly removed dangerman Akhtar Sarfraz, who top-scored with 63 against England on Saturday, and then had Mohammad Hussain stumped by stand-in keeper Vince Wells before Sajid Shah was caught behind attempting to sweep.

Hick then returned and had Mushtaq Ahmed caught in the deep while Shabbir Ahmed was bowled to finish Pakistan A's innings at 121 after a stunning collapse of six wickets 18 runs in 10 overs.

If Hick's return to form with the ball was a big bonus for England before they enter the Sharjah event against India and Pakistan, the resurgence of the opening partnership between Stewart and Nick Knight was also a welcome tonic.

They refused to be deflected by Pakistan's slow over-rate and enjoyed a 161-run stand in 30 overs. Stewart hit 73 before holing out in the deep off Mushtaq, but Knight carried on to reach 92 off 94 deliveries, including a six and nine other boundaries.

SCOREBOARD

England won toss

ENGLAND

N V Knight c Akhtar b Mohammed 92

*A J Stewart c Saeed b Mushtaq 73

V J Wells c and b Sajid Shah 51

G A Hick c Hasan b Mohammed 9

G P Thorpe not out 35

N H Fairbrother not out 10

Extras (b1, lb4, w13, nb3) 21

Total (for 4, 50 overs) 291

Fall: 1-161, 2-198, 3-221, 4-281.

Did not bat: A J Hollioake, M A Ealham, I D Austin, A R C Fraser, A D Mullally.

Bowling: Waqar Younis 10-0-47-0; Sajid Shah 9-1-52-1; Shabbir Ahmed 10- 0-68-0; Mushtaq Ahmed 10-0-56-1; Mohammed Hussain 10-1-49-2; Saeed Anwar Jrn 1-0-14-0.

PAKISTAN A

Mohammed Naveed c Fairbrother

b Austin 24

Saeed Anwar Jrn b Fraser 10

Akhtar Sarfraz c Austin b Hick 14

Hasan Raza c Hick b Fraser 7

Faisal Iqbal not out 26

Mohammed Hussain st Wells b Hick 12

Sajid Shah c Wells b Hick 8

*Waqar Younis b Ealham 5

Kamarn Akmal c Wells b Ealham 0

Mushtaq Ahmed c Austin b Hick 1

Shabbir Ahmed b Hick 0

Extras (lb6, w3, nb5) 14

Total (35 overs) 121

Fall: 1-35, 2-44, 3-57, 4-73, 5-93, 6-112, 7-120, 8-120, 9-121.

Bowling: Mullally 5-0-17-0; Fraser 9-2-32-2; Austin 5-0-19-1; Hollioake 7-0-27-0; Hick 8-1-19-5; Ealham 1-0-1-2.

Umpires: Siddiq Khan and Aleem Dar.

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