England at cross purposes until Collingwood steadies the ship

England 248-6 v Pakistan
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The Independent Online

When Michael Vaughan informed his England team that he wanted them to build a platform from which they could control the third Test against Pakistan, he did not envisage five of his front-line batsmen losing their wicket to cross-batted shots.

Yet this is how the core of England's order fell here in Lahore on the opening day of a Test that will decide the series. Paul Collingwood, the only England batsman to show restraint, finished another fascinating day with an unbeaten career-best Test score of 71.

Had Collingwood's teammates been equally prudent with their shot selection England would have ended in a far stronger position. Even so, Vaughan will be relatively pleased that the game is progressing quite quickly.

It is England who need to win the match to level the series, and when bad light stopped play, with 13 overs remaining, they had reached 248 for 6.

Vaughan will also have been happy with the pace and bounce the pitch offered Pakistan's fast bowlers. The England captain will believe that Messrs Harmison, Flintoff, Hoggard and Plunkett, who is making his Test debut, will make life for Pakistan's batsmen far more uncomfortable than it was in Multan and Faisalabad.

Vaughan would find it difficult to be critical of the way Marcus Trescothick, Ian Bell, Andrew Flintoff and Geraint Jones got out because he started the trend. England, after a difficult opening hour against the new ball, were making the most of winning an important toss and had reached 101 without loss when Vaughan swept the off-spin of Shoaib Malik to Mohammad Yousuf.

Vaughan, opening the batting for England for the first time in 20 months, looked in top form during his 130 minutes at the crease, and he could not believe he had picked out Yousuf at backward square-leg. Trescothick and Bell added 13 before England's No 3 attempted the same shot against the same bowler and top-edged a simple catch to Yousuf, now at short fine-leg.

Trescothick completed his 28th Test half-century when he nudged Shoaib Akhtar into the leg side for a single. It proved to be his last scoring shot. Trescothick was the unluckiest of England's batsmen to fall to the sweep shot. He did little wrong. As the coaching manual states, he swept the ball down but, unfortunately for him, he swept it down on to his right boot. After making contact with his boot/lower pad, the ball lobbed up and Kamran Akmal took an athletic one-handed catch at the feet of the batsman.

Views on whether batsmen should employ the sweep shot vary. There are those, Duncan Fletcher included, who feel it is a vital part of a batsman's armoury against spin. There are others who say that batters should concentrate solely on hitting the ball down the ground.

Batsmen, ideally, should be capable of doing both, but players tend to sweep when they are apprehensive about leaving their crease to a spinner. Batsmen know they will get crucified if they run past the ball and get stumped, and sweeping is perceived to be the safer option.

Collingwood, however, backed himself and used his feet. For a player who is probably playing for his Test future it was a brave tactic. Collingwood scored his first runs when he came down the wicket and drove Malik through extra cover for four. His dainty footwork had the desired effect and in Malik's next over he struck three boundaries.

There is no point telling Kevin Pietersen not to play the sweep because it is one of his strongest shots, and he wasted little time before slogging Malik over deep mid-wicket for six.

While Collingwood and Pietersen's partnership flourished, England looked set for a decent score. But misfortune struck again in the final over before tea when Pietersen glanced a leg-sided short ball from Rana Naved-ul-Hasan through to the Pakistan keeper.

It was Akmal's second superb diving catch and he should have been credited with a third before the close, but Darrell Hair failed to see Collingwood's inside edge.

There was nothing unfortunate about the dismissals of Flintoff and Jones. Pakistan's fast bowlers, like South Africa's last winter, have looked to bowl short at Flintoff. England play on bigger grounds when they are abroad and this makes the hook more dangerous.

It caused Flintoff's demise and when Shoaib took the catch at fine-leg England were in trouble on 201 for 5. Matters became worse when, with England on 225 for 5, Jones had a wild sweep at Danish Kaneria and lost his off stump.

Collingwood is a good man to have at the crease in a crisis. He may not be the most gifted cricketer in the game, but he makes the most of what he has. He is competitive and, unlike some of his team-mates, he remains composed in difficult situations.

It is these traits that have made him an integral member of England's one-day side, yet before this innings he had been unable to transfer this form into the longer form of the game.

"Batting was quite difficult out there," Collingwood said. "It turned a little bit more than we expected but I managed to stick it out and I was quite happy with my shot selection. I feel satisfied and relieved to have at last scored some runs.

"After eight Test innings and a highest score of 36 you obviously start doubting yourself a little bit. I'd be lying if I said there was no extra pressure on me in this match. It's not a hundred or anything major, but it's something major for me because it gives me the confidence that I can actually do it at Test level."

Collingwood will continue England's quest to post a match-winning total with Shaun Udal, who plays ahead of Ashley Giles, whose hip injury has forced him to return to England early.

Collingwood's innings completed a memorable day for Durham who, for the first time in their history have three players - Collingwood, Stephen Harmison and Liam Plunkett - representing England in a Test.

* Sharad Pawar was yesterday elected the new president of Indian cricket. Pawar defeated the incumbent Ranbir Singh Mahendra. The England and Wales Cricket Board will now hope to change the itinerary for next year's tour of India, whenonly one of 10 international matches is scheduled for a major city.

Highlights of the first day

Shot of the day

KEVIN PIETERSEN: The sweep shot got England into trouble on the opening day, but the middle-order batsman showed everyone how it should be executed when he hoisted Shoaib Malik over deep midwicket for six. The Gaddafi Stadium has a huge playing surface but the ball still gained enough impetus from Pietersen to sail into the stands.

Ball of the day

RANA NAVED-UL-HASAN: The bowler picked up two wickets yesterday, but his best delivery missed everything. It shaped into Marcus Trescothick before leaving him off the seam and flying an inch past off stump. Unplayable.

Moment of day

PAUL COLLINGWOOD: The Durham man scoring his maiden Test half-century for England. It came via an outside edge to third man, and it was pleasing to see this hard-working, popular cricketer at last post a score in this form of the game.

Scoreboard from Lahore

England won toss; first day of five

England - First innings

M E Trescothick c Kamran Akmal b Shoaib Malik (TV replay) 50 161 min, 117 balls, 9 fours

* M P Vaughan c Mohammad Yousuf b Shoaib Malik 58 130 min, 91 balls, 10 fours

I R Bell c Mohammad Yousuf b Shoaib Malik 4 19 min, 14 balls

P D Collingwood not out 71 179 min, 117 balls, 11 fours

K P Pietersen c Kamran Akmal b Naved-ul-Hasan 34 76 min, 63 balls, 2 fours, 1 six

A Flintoff c Shoaib Akhtar b Naved-ul-Hasan 12 30 min, 26 balls, 2 fours

ÝG O Jones b Danish Kaneria 4 23 min, 17 balls

S D Udal not out 10 37 min, 20 balls, 1 four

Extras (lb2 nb3) 5

Total (for 6, 330min, 77 overs) 248

Fall: 1-101 (Vaughan) 2-114 (Bell) 3-115 (Trescothick) 4-183 (Pietersen) 5-201 (Flintoff) 6-225 (Jones).

To bat: L E Plunkett, M J Hoggard, S J Harmison.

Bowling: Shoaib Akhtar 14-4-29-0 (nb1) (5-3-5-0, 5-1-11-0, 4-0-13-0); Naved-ul-Hasan 17-3-62-2 (9-2-28-0, 8-1-34-2); Mohammad Sami 14-2-53-0 (7-2-38-0, 6-0-14-0); Shoaib Malik 14-1-58-3 (nb2) (one spell); Danish Kaneria 18-2-44-1 (3-1-3-0, 15-1-41-1).

Pakistan: Salman Butt, Shoaib Malik, Asim Kamal, Mohammad Yousuf, * Inzamam-ul-Haq, Hasan Raza, ÝKamran Akmal, Mohammad Sami, Naved-ul-Hasan, Shoaib Akhtar, Danish Kaneria.

Progress: 50: 81 min, 18 overs. Lunch: 93-0 (Trescothick 40, Vaughan 52) 29 overs. 100: 124 min, 30.1 overs. 150: 197 min, 45.3 overs. Tea: 183-4 (Collingwood 33) 56.1 overs. 200: 266 mins, 63.5 overs. Bad light stopped play 4.30pm.

Trescothick's 50: 158 mins, 115 balls, 9 fours. Vaughan's 50: 111 mins, 70 balls, 9 fours. Collingwood's 50: 126 mins, 84 balls, 7 fours.

Umpires: D B Hair (Aus) and R E Koertzen (SA).

TV replay umpire: Zameer Haidar.

Match referee: R S Mahanama.

First Test (Multan): Pakistan 274 and 341 (Salman Butt 122); England 418 (M E Trescothick 193) and 175. Pakistan win by 22 runs.

Second Test (Faisalabad): Pakistan 462 (Inzamam-ul-Haq 109) and 268 for 9 dec (Inzamam-ul-Haq 100no); England 446 (I R Bell 115, K Pietersen 100) and 164-6. Match drawn.