Flintoff and Pietersen's high-risk style plays into Pakistan hands

Pakistan 274 &amp; 341 England 418 &amp; 175<br/><i>Pakistan win by 22 runs</i>
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The Independent Online

Well played, Pakistan. Had England recovered from the perilous position Inzamam-ul-Haq's side found themselves in on the second evening of the first Test, DVDs heralding "The Greatest Comeback" would already be on sale at most major retail outlets.

The hyperbolic marketers may still get the chance to produce another stocking filler, and should England come back to win the series they would have every right to use such a title. Winning a three-Test series after losing the first match is a very difficult task and England have managed it only twice - against Australia in 1888 and in Sri Lanka in 2000-01.

It would be easy to lambast England's batsmen for failing to score the 198 runs they required for victory yesterday, but chasing a total on the final day of a Test is rarely straightforward. The combination of pressure, tired bodies and a worn pitch increases the chance of players acting irrationally, and England's inability to handle such a situation played a significant role in the 22-run loss.

Yet when Michael Vaughan, Duncan Fletcher and Marcus Trescothick sit down to analyse what took place here they will rue the failure of the middle order to push home the advantage gained during the first two days of the match, as much as the batting yesterday.

On Sunday evening, in reply to Pakistan's first-innings total of 274, England were on 251 for 2. The pitch held no demons and England were looking to build a lead in excess of 250. Yet the remaining eight wickets added just 167 runs and this was largely down to the inadequacies of Paul Collingwood, Kevin Pietersen, Andrew Flintoff and Geraint Jones, who had poor games with the bat.

England have just three days to sort out their batting woes - only Trescothick can claim to be in top form - and Vaughan is under enormous pressure to be fit for the second Test, which starts on Sunday. Vaughan continues to make progress with his knee but there is a high degree of risk in selecting a player who collapsed at the crease 10 days ago, and expecting him to be fit enough to bat for six hours.

If Vaughan plays in Faisalabad, Collingwood will probably miss out. Had the England captain been fit for the first Test Collingwood would have played ahead of Ian Bell. The principal reason for the decision was Collingwood's bowling, and the hope that his inclusion would help to reduce Flintoff's workload.

We now know - Collingwood bowled four overs in the match - that in close games this will not happen. Flintoff is England's best bowler and he will continue to bowl a lot of overs. Bell made the most of his unexpected opportunity and struck 104 runs, while Collingwood scored 13.

Pietersen had a poor Test too, and yesterday he and Flintoff were guilty of getting out to ill-judged strokes. Trescothick, England's stand-in captain, attempted to defend their shot selection but deep down they know they were culpable.

England began the final day needing 174 runs with nine wickets in hand, and initially it appeared as though they would stroll to victory. Andrew Strauss and Bell saw off a burst from Shoaib Akhtar, and runs came at a healthy rate.

But the introduction of Danish Kaneria changed the course of the day. With his 13th delivery the leg-spinner found the outside edge of Bell's bat, and four balls later he had Strauss caught at slip. Suddenly, 64 for 1 had become 67 for 3, and it became 67 for 4 in the next over when Mohammad Sami trapped Collingwood lbw. The loss of 3 for 3 in eight balls brought together Pietersen and Flintoff, and both went for their shots. Flintoff drove Sami powerfully for four and Pietersen slog-swept Kaneria for six.

Kaneria is not as good a leg-spin bowler as Shane Warne but he does have more variation. Warne's overused shoulder restricts him to bowling leg-breaks and sliders, whereas Kaneria's more youthful joint allows him to deliver leggies, top-spinners and googlies.

It is the googly that England's batsman are having trouble picking. The inability of batsmen to judge which way the ball will turn when it hits the pitch makes them reluctant to advance. The sweep then becomes the preferred option and this stroke brought about Flintoff's downfall. Flintoff hit the ball well but, with two catchers waiting in the deep, it was a high-risk shot.

Pietersen reduced England's target to 99 when he edged Sami to third man for four, but the fast bowler gained revenge in his next over when a wild drive was caught by the wicketkeeper.

In these situations, Ashley Giles is a great man to have coming in. In the summer the unflappable spinner guided England to a dramatic victory over Australia at Trent Bridge, but on this occasion he was no match forShoaib, who ripped out his middle and leg stump with a 94mph yorker.

As Giles trudged back to the dressing-room England looked out of it. Eighty-one runs were required and only Shaun Udal, Matthew Hoggard and Stephen Harmison were left. But Jones and Udal batted sensibly and the runs began to flow. Pakistan were now the team under pressure and Inzamam, with 34 runs to defend, called on Shoaib.

It worked. Jones inside-edged Shoaib on to his stumps and in the next over Udal was bowled by a Kaneria googly. Harmison swiped a couple of fours but when he tried to play a late cut at an Shoaib slower ball he was caught low at slip. Harmison did not want to go. In disbelief he looked down the wicket and said "no". The Pakistan players had ripped the stumps out and were celebrating in a huddle, oblivious to Simon Taufel who, after a chat with Billy Bowden, raised his finger.

Scoreboard from Multan

Final day; Pakistan won toss

Pakistan - First Innings 274 (Salman Butt 74, Inzamam-ul-Haq 53; A Flintoff 4-68).

England - First Innings 418 (M E Trescothick 193, I R Bell 71; Shabbir Ahmed 4-54).

Pakistan - Second Innings 341 ((Salman Butt 122, Inzamam-ul-Haq 72; A Flintoff 4-88).

England - Second innings

(Overnight: 24 for 1)

A J Strauss c Hasan Raza b Danish Kaneria 23 91 min, 61 balls, 2 fours

I R Bell c Kamran Akmal b Danish Kaneria 31 71 min, 45 balls, 2 fours, 1 six

P D Collingwood lbw b Mohammad Sami 3 8 min, 5 balls

K P Pietersen c Kamran Akmal b Mohammad Sami 19 42 min, 29 balls, 1 four, 1 six

A Flintoff c Younis Khan b Danish Kaneria 11 22 min, 14 balls, 2 fours

ÝG O Jones b Shoaib Akhtar 33 108 min, 75 balls, 1 four

A F Giles b Shoaib Akhtar 14 26 min, 28 balls, 2 fours

S D Udal b Danish Kaneria 18 68 min, 42 balls, 2 fours

M J Hoggard not out 0 10 min, 3 balls

S J Harmison c Younis Khan b Shoaib Akhtar 9 7 min, 5 balls, 2 fours

Extras (b6 lb1 nb2) 9

Total (238 min, 52.4 overs) 175

Fall: 1-7 (Trescothick) 2-64 (Bell) 3-67 (Strauss) 4-67 (Collingwood) 5-93 (Flintoff) 6-101 (Pietersen) 7-117 (Giles) 8-166 (Jones) 9-166 (Udal) 10-175 (Harmison).

Bowling: Shoaib Akhtar 12.4-1-49-3 (nb1) (4-0-15-0, 3-0-16-0, 4-1-8-1, 1.4-0-10-2); Shabbir Ahmed 10-0-25-1 (4-0-6-1, 4-0-8-0, 2-0-11-0); Danish Kaneria 20-0-62-4 (1-0-3-0, 19-0-59-4); Mohammad Sami 9-0-31-2 (nb1) (7-0-24-2, 2-0-7-0); Shoaib Malik 1-0-1-0.

Progress: Fourth day: Bad light stopped play 4.46pm; close 24-1 (Strauss 7, Bell 12) 9 overs. Fifth day: 50: 71 mins, 15.4 overs. 100: 128 min, 27.2 overs. Lunch: 138-7 (Jones 14, Udal 12) 42 overs. 150: 205 min, 45.4 overs. Innings closed: 1.26pm.

Pakistan won by 22 runs

Umpires: B F Bowden (NZ) and S J A Taufel (Aus).

TV replay umpire: Asad Rauf.

Match referee: R S Mahanama.

Highlights from the final day

Shot of the day: Shaun Udal

Performed admirably on his Test debut, and when he returns to England he can tell his children that he drove Shoaib Akhtar, the world's fastest bowler, down the ground for four.

Ball of the day: Danish Kaneria

The googly that bowled Shaun Udal through the gate. There can be no better sight for a leg-spinner than watching a batsman grope and then miss a ball he has not picked.