Cricket: Malcolm hits fiery form

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The Independent Online
Derbyshire . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .216 and 182-4

Pakistanis . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .197

THE Pakistanis were on their best behaviour yesterday, which is more than can be said for their graceless, ill-mannered supporters, one of whom was ejected from the ground after head-butting a steward.

There were some ifs and buts, too, about certain aspects of the tourists' cricket though this takes nothing away from a largely no- nonsense display by Derbyshire, who consolidated their penetrative pace bowling with batting that was old fashioned in its gritty application.

The inevitable Peter Bowler, the country's leading run-maker, held them together. He has worked hard in the last year or so to add an extra dimension or two to his game and now few bowlers hold fears for him. Not even Waqar Younis's yorker could dislodge him, though at 73 Wasim Akram, moving the ball late and a long way, 'bowled' him with a perfectly pitched inswinger which proved to be a no-ball.

This was a reminder, as if Derbyshire needed it, that much remains to be done. A win here would give the Pakistanis their pounds 50,000 reward for victories against the counties with two games in hand and on such a good pitch they will cheerfully tackle anything which they are required to do in the fourth innings.

Indeed, their first innings was something of a dress rehearsal, with its welter of flailing bats and unsuccessful hooks, all of which seemed to be induced by an opening burst from Devon Malcolm that was sharp and to the point and not notable for much of a driveable length.

Malcolm may have been fired up by memories of Old Trafford, or he may have just heard of his omission from the England side (or both). Either way, he steamed in and soon removed Asif Mujtaba, who probably middled his hook but was not the first batsman to learn that on such a huge outfield that does not guarantee survival.

Enter Javed Miandad to receive the full treatment, his unsurprising first-ball bouncer sprang yards over his head. He batted with little sign of comfort or composure until he hooked Malcolm from somewhere near the splice.

The ball went to an enormous height and Malcolm is not normally the fielder whose name immediately springs to his captain's mind on such occasions. But he was right underneath it and you could have put your mortgage, your life savings or anything you like that he would have held this one and hold it he did.