England 173 Pakistan 336-3: Abject England humbled as Yousuf returns to century duty

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The Independent Online

In an attempt to get a better understanding of England's mentality during last summer's Ashes series John Buchanan, the Australian coach, has recommended his team read a book containing the views of his opposite number, Duncan Fletcher. Yet if Ricky Ponting, the Australian captain, should find its contents in any way intimidating or disturbing England have been kind enough to provide him with a remedy - a video of their abject performance yesterday.

England's batting on the opening day of the final Test may have been disappointing but the bowling, fielding and general demeanour of the team on the second day, as Pakistan powered their way to 336 for 3, was frankly awful. Mohammad Yousuf, Mohammad Hafeez and Imran Farhat benefited, with Yousuf scoring his third hundred of the series.

Hafeez and Farhat were both dismissed by Matthew Hoggard in the 90s but Yousuf remained unbeaten on 115 when bad light ended play. It was little surprise to see Inzamam-ul-Haq, the Pakistan captain, and Yousuf wearing huge smiles as they left the field. With a lead of 163, and facing a demoralised opponent, the tourists can now, weather permitting, expect to enter the coming one-day series with a morale boosting win.

England's bowlers must be sick of the sight of Yousuf, who has scored more Test runs than any other batsman in 2006, and it would surprise nobody if he posted his third double hundred against them today. The 31-year-old collected runs through the leg side but struck 13 of his 16 boundaries with a delightful array of off-side strokes.

Hafeez was impressive too. He reached his half-century by lofting Monty Panesar over long-off for six and played several exquisite shots before clipping Hoggard to mid-wicket.

With the series already won, Andrew Strauss' side could be forgiven for having one poor day. But two? It smacks of complacency. England may feel they have achieved their goal for the summer, but if they believe they are good enough to turn form on and off they are in for a shock this winter.

England ought to be aware of the problems a relaxed approach can create. It was one of the principle reasons why they were well beaten by Pakistan in their first series after the Ashes. It was only when they beat Pakistan at Headingley a week ago to take an unassailable 2-0 lead, that they began to resemble the team of last summer.

Heavy overnight rain delayed the start of play by 30 minutes but England's bowlers once again failed to make the most of helpful conditions. A heavy, overcast atmosphere should have allowed the seamers to swing and nip the ball around, but Farhat and Yousuf made batting look relatively easy.

Following a wild opening spell the previous evening Strauss overlooked Stephen Harmison for 75 minutes, opting instead for Sajid Mahmood and Matthew Hoggard. The pair began well and, despite the sombre nature of the crowd, England were noisy in the field. Mahmood almost dismissed Yousuf on a couple of occasions and a direct hit by Hoggard, fielding at mid-off, would have run Farhat out for 61.

The left-hander crashed the next delivery through the covers for four. The ball began frequenting the advertising boards at regular intervals and England's early vigour evaporated. By now the crowd's reaction to Panesar was even muted. England's charismatic spinner has become a barometer of the crowd's interest but not even the ball rolling to him at fine-leg could drag them out of their torpor.

Panesar's introduction was greeted with applause but the festivities were short lived as Farhat danced down the pitch to his first ball and smashed it over long-on for six. Farhat sliced Hoggard over Strauss to move in to the 90s, but aspirations of a third Test hundred ended two balls later when he edged a catch to Marcus Trescothick at first slip.

Hafeez, who had retired hurt with a knee injury on Thursday evening, returned to the crease and hit Hoggard to the boundary on three occasions. Pakistan passed England's 173 when Yousuf swept Panesar for four and Strauss, belatedly, gave Harmison the ball.

If the juxtaposition of the stars is right, and when provided with a helpful surface on which to bowl, Harmison is a fearsome proposition. But in the two years since he was ranked as the best bowler in the world such days have come along far too infrequently.

Evidence of Harmison's inconsistency can be seen by inspecting his figures. If the 27-year-old's best three match performances are removed from his career statistics his Test bowling average rises from 29 to 33. Obviously this is the same for every bowler, but the increase amongst Harmison's contemporaries is far less dramatic. Glenn McGrath and Curtly Ambrose, bowlers he is often compared to, have played twice as much Test cricket as Harmison but, when their best six performances are removed their average swells by under two runs.

The problem for England's coaching staff is working out whether his troubles are technical or mental. Harmison can never be accused of not trying but there are times when he looks uninterested, and yesterday was one of those occasions. Technically he has problems too. When his rhythm is not right he falls away to off just before releasing the ball. It makes it very difficult for him to bowl with consistency, and it needs to be sorted out before England arrive in Brisbane on 23 November.

Oval scoreboard

Second day of five

Pakistan won toss

England - First Innings 173 (Mohammad Asif 4-56, Umar Gul 4-46).

Pakistan - First innings

(Overnight: 96 for 1)

Mohammad Hafeez c Strauss b Hoggard 95

229min, 178 balls, 14 fours, 1 six

Imran Farhat c Trescothick b Hoggard 91

151min, 112 balls, 13 fours, 1 six

Younis Khan c Read b Mahmood 9

33min, 13 balls

Mohammad Yousuf not out 115

279min, 190 balls, 16 fours

*Inzamam-ul-Haq not out 2

13min, 5 balls

Extras (lb7, w11, nb6) 24

Total (for 3, 354min, 82 overs) 336

Fall: 1-70 (Younis Khan), 2-148 (Imran Farhat), 3-325 (Mohammad Hafeez).

To bat: Faisal Iqbal, +Kamran Akmal, Shahid Nazir, Mohammad Asif, Umar Gul, Danish Kaneria.

Bowling: Hoggard 22-2-79-2 (nb4) (4-0-13-0; 13-2-53-1; 4-0-11-0; 1-0-2-1); Harmison 15-2-78-0 (nb1,w11) (6-1-38-0; 3-1-7-0; 5-0-24-0; 1-0-9-0); Mahmood 18-2-74-1 (nb1) (6-1-24-1; 4-1-20-0; 5-0-15-0; 3-0-15-0); Panesar 19-3-60-0 (1-0-3-0; 15-3-49-0; 3-0-8-0); Collingwood 6-0-29-0 (4-0-12-0; 2-0-17-0); Pietersen 2-0-9-0 (one spell).

Progress: First day: Mohammad Hafeez retired hurt 8 at 35-0 after 8 overs. 50: 55min, 11.1 overs. Close 96-1 (Imran Farhat 56, Mohammad Yousuf 12) 22 overs. Second day (min 93 overs): damp outfield delayed start until 11.29am. 100: 114min, 23.2 overs. Mohammad Hafeez resumed his innings at the fall of the second wicket. 150: 163min, 34 overs. Lunch: 190-2 (Mohammad Yousuf 46, Mohammad Hafeez 28) 44 overs. 200: 215min, 48.1 overs. 250: 265min, 61.5 overs. Bad light stopped play 2.51 to 4.26pm 257-2 (Mohammad Yousuf 78, Mohammad Hafeez 61) 63.3 overs. Tea taken. 300: 320min, 74.3 overs. New ball taken after 80.1 overs at 325-3. Bad light stopped play 5.49pm.

Mohammad Hafeez's 50: 142min, 109 balls, 7 fours, 1 six. Imran Farhat's 50: 90min, 63 balls, 7 fours. Mohammad Yousuf's 50: 134 balls, 93 balls, 7 fours. 100: 249min, 174 balls, 14 fours.

Umpires: B R Doctrove (WI) and D B Hair (Aus).

TV replay umpire: P J Hartley.

Match referee: M J Procter.

Weather and TV times

* WEATHER Showers likely, but will ease. Max temp: 20C.

* TELEVISION Live: Sky Sports 1, 10.30am Highlights: Five, 7.15pm