England win final warm-up match before Pakistan Test series

 

England closed out a second successive
warm-up victory today as they continue to fine-tune their preparations for the
three-Test series against Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates.

England needed 52.3 of the 62 overs they gave themselves against a Pakistan Cricket Board XI, set 251 to win, before they emerged successful by 100 runs at the GCA ground.

Jonathan Trott's 93 and three wickets each for Graham Onions and Monty Panesar mean Andrew Strauss' world-beating team can begin next week's first Test with confidence-boosting runs still behind only half of the top six but success under the belts of all of their bowlers.

After Trott and Strauss (62) had set up the final day by taking their opening stand to 130, England were able to make the third declaration of the match five minutes before the scheduled lunch break.

They then made three strikes with the new ball but had to work hard for more inroads with spin and seam thereafter.

PCB were in near instant trouble on 16 for three, thanks to Onions and Chris Tremlett. But Fawad Alam (51) and Usman Salahuddin then dug in for a stand of 71.

Onions took the first PCB wicket when Afaq Raheem chopped a ball on to his stumps, on the back foot, and then Tremlett had Nasir Jamshed edging behind as he played away from his body in defence.

Mohammad Ayub Dogar was lbw pushing forward to Onions for a third-ball duck, but Alam and Salahuddin were made of sterner stuff.

It was not until more than an hour later that Salahuddin succumbed, following some Panesar spin to be caught at slip.

Then once Alam departed, holing out to midwicket off Kevin Pietersen's occasional off-spin just before tea, England were properly on track for victory - and it seemed merely a matter of how hard and long they would have to graft for their reward.

Haris Sohail was lbw pushing half-forward to Graeme Swann - and although there was a suspicion of bat before pad when Onions trapped Yasir Shah in front, there was but no doubt about the stumping after Raza Hasan went on an odd walkabout to Monty Panesar.

The slow left-armer then duly completed proceedings when he had Mohammad Talha last out, lbw playing no shot.

Trott and Strauss were largely responsible for England's 181 for three declared.

Strauss was first to his half-century this morning, having hit five fours from 96 balls.

Trott followed with one more boundary, from two balls fewer.

After two failures in three previous attempts, and with the first Test against Pakistan less than a week away, his runs were especially valuable to England.

Promoted to open in place of an already in-form Alastair Cook, the inked-in Test number three dealt confidently with the new ball last night and continued on his unhurried way again today.

Strauss kept him company until he went back and was lbw to leg-spinner Yasir Shah, who soon took his match haul to seven wickets as Pietersen continued his run without a major score here by haplessly mis-sweeping for a simple catch looped to slip.

When Trott then poked a low catch to cover off Shah (three for 38), England decided they were more interested in winning than allowing the unbeaten Ian Bell or Eoin Morgan one last chance before the three-Test series to boost confidence with more time in the middle.

PA

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