England complete warm-up in style

Giles finally makes an impression as Hussein's men canter past an uncompetitive Pakistan A side in unusual fashion

England avoided another potential banana skin and came up smelling of roses in their final one-day warm-up match here yesterday. They hardly needed the footwork of Billy Elliott to bypass a Pakistan A side whose true status seemed to be several letters further down the alphabet but their general alertness and efficiency ensured a second unperturbed evening in the largely empty but rarely quiet National Stadium.

England avoided another potential banana skin and came up smelling of roses in their final one-day warm-up match here yesterday. They hardly needed the footwork of Billy Elliott to bypass a Pakistan A side whose true status seemed to be several letters further down the alphabet but their general alertness and efficiency ensured a second unperturbed evening in the largely empty but rarely quiet National Stadium.

A more searching examination of the tourists' credentials as a limited-overs team will be provided tomorrow when the one-day series begins but a victory by 10 wickets [four players batted, though none was dismissed] completed an unusually smooth preparation.

To strengthen England's positive state of mind, their first-choice spinner, Ashley Giles returned to action after the calf injury he sustained in Kenya. He not only bowled nine overs without parts of his body falling off but also took 3 for 34. Such figures, even on another impeccable batting surface, do not mean that Giles has suddenly developed an unreadable, unplayable delivery but he was invariably tidy as he darted the ball in from round the wicket. At last, he should add to the five caps he has won after being selected in 36 squads.

Despite its billing this was as uncompetitive as any match involving professional players is likely to be. England were eager, if not desperate to field first, both to sample bowling in the heat of the afternoon and batting under this ground's new lights. So, fortuitously, or by arrangement, it came to pass. The bowlers will have welcomed, or at least learned from, the opportunity to work in such conditions. To ensure that four players had an innings in what are still unfamiliar circumstances to Englishmen, both openers had to retire. As Marcus Trescothick and Alec Stewart virtually galloped off the field and were clearly suffering from nothing more serious than the need for a glass of water they ought, strictly speaking, to have been retired out. Since little else was in accordance with normal cricketing form, it is not worth making a fuss. Stewart told spectators as he left the arena that he had "retired old" which is a rare concession by the Gaffer to his passing years.

England were probably a little surprised by what greeted them as they reached the middle. For the second consecutive match there was no crowd to speak of. Cricket in Pakistan is supposed to grip the nation and indeed everyone you speak to has a view on the game and on the Pakistani team. The next surprise was that so few people could make so much commotion and it will have crossed all their minds that if this is what 1,000 can do 35,000 can be 35 times as deafeningly when the serious stuff begins. Then came the biggest shock, nay disappointment of all. Pakistan A simply were not up to the job. Andrew Caddick used the new ball well for England, discovering the right line. The quality of the attacking shots played against both Caddick and Darren Gough, however, was poor.

The progress was always behind what it should have been to provide England with a sterner work-out and the presence in the side of the former Test player Ijaz Ahmed Jnr and, more appealingly, of Bazid Khan, the son of the great former Test batsman, Majid Khan, did nothing to raise the tempo.

England used six bowlers including Matthew Hoggard, who was in the team for a resting Craig White and playing for England for the first time since he appeared in the taut Lord's Test against the West Indies last summer. He may have spotted the difference in tension. That Pakistan A made as many runs as they did was thanks to an unconventional, unwieldy half century by Naumanullah, the exception to the rule of elegant Pakistani batsmanship. His six over long-on off Gough in a stay of 88 balls was the most unforeseeable shot of the night.

A total of 170 was never going to provide any sort of test. Pakistan A paraded the country's 18-year-old fast bowler, Mohammad Sami. He is fast but for the moment inaccurate and his left-arm opening partner, Zahid Saeed was little better. Stewart and Trescothick were dropped before reaching their fifties from 55 and 68 balls respectively. There followed a ridiculous scene when the players left the field, shaking hands over the result before it was realised that the scoreboard was wrong and England needed four more. It embodied an inadequate night.

England won toss

PAKISTAN A

Salman Butt c Stewart b Caddick 2 Yasir Hameed b Giles 31 Ijaz Ahmad jnr run out 4 *Bazid Khan c Stewart b Giles 12 Hasan Raza b Caddick 12 Naumanullah b Giles 64 ÿHumayun Farhat lbw b Caddick 5 Fahad Khan not out 28 Shiraz Haider not out 3 Extras (nb6 w3) 9 Total (for 7, 50 overs) 170

Fall: 1-9, 2-28, 3-50, 4-55, 5-82, 6-93, 7-159.

Did not bat: Mohammad Sami, Zahid Saeed.

Bowling: Caddick 10-4-15-3; Gough 10-0-42-0 (nb4, w1); Hoggard 7-0-26-0 (nb1); Ealham 8-0-26-0; Giles 9-0-34-3 (w1); Trescothick 6-0-27-0 (w1, nb1).

ENGLAND

M E Trescothick retired hurt 59 ÿA J Stewart retired hurt 50 *N Hussain not out 31 G P Thorpe not out 9 Extras (lb5 w14 nb3) 22 Total (for 0, 29.4 overs) 171

Did not bat: G A Hick, A Flintoff, M A Ealham, A R Caddick, A F Giles, M J Hoggard, D Gough.

Bowling: Zahid Saeed 4-0-19-0 (w3, nb2); Mohammad Sami 6-0-35-0 (w4); Naumanullah 2-0-17-0; Shiraz Haider 3.4-0-31-0 (w5, nb1); Ijaz Ahmad Jnr 7-1-31-0 (w2); Fahad Khan 7-0-33-0.

Umpires: Feroze Butt and Islam Khan.

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