Durham, according to Paul Collingwood, are the new Surrey, and it was probably just as well for Michael Vaughan that his England side contained a significant number of players from the North-east, because the cricket on the second day of the third Test against Pakistan was more Ashington Colliery than the King's Road.
Dynamic and glitzy it was not, yet it was the Durham trio of Collingwood, Stephen Harmison and Liam Plunkett who were involved in most of what was good in England's cricket. Collingwood was deprived of a maiden Test century when he top-edged a hook at Shoaib Akhtar and was caught at fine leg for 96, Harmison bowled his best spell of the tour and Plunkett took his first Test wicket.
The input of the triumvirate, along with Matthew Hoggard, who took two early wickets with the new ball, left a series-deciding Test delicately poised. After being all out for 288 England claimed four Pakistan wickets for the cost of 185 runs before bad light stopped play for the second evening in a row. A Harmison lifter also caused Inzamam-ul-Haq to retire hurt on 35 with an injured right forearm, and Pakistan's ability to go past England's total is likely to depend on the fitness of their captain. Inzamam had an X-ray yesterday but tests showed no fracture, just bad bruising.
Harmison may not appreciate it, after bowling almost 100 back-breaking overs on slow, lifeless pitches, but the tour of Pakistan will have improved him as a bowler. In the past, a lanky frame and an ability to bowl at 90mph has generally been enough to bring success, but to be effective here he has had to develop new skills - slower balls and reverse swing - and to bowl with discipline.
Harmison's series figures - he has already taken 12 wickets - highlight how well he has adapted, and had he had an ounce of luck in an excellent opening 10-over spell yesterday they would be even better.
The spell, and the discomfort it caused Pakistan's top order, was not lost on Mohammad Yousuf, who finished the day unbeaten on 84. "The last time I faced such a fantastic spell of bowling was in the West Indies in 2000 from Curtly Ambrose and Courtney Walsh," said Yousuf. "I think Harmison's spell was better. It was very testing."
Harmison should have claimed the wicket of Yousuf when he was on 16 but Andrew Flintoff dropped a low catch by his left boot. The steep bounce Harmison extracted from the pitch allowed him to trouble the right-hander constantly, but this was a day sent to test the will of a fast bowler.
Harmison's efforts did not go totally unrewarded, and when Flintoff caught Hasan Raza at slip the relief and joy of the bowler was clear to see. " It is always nice to get a wicket at the very end of the day," said Harmison. "I felt I deserved a bit better than I got and if we, as a side, had had a little more luck we could have taken two or three more wickets.
"The pitch is slow, which is what you expect in Pakistan, but it does have a bit of bounce and carry in it. But there has not been a lot of sideways movement and the ball has not started reversing yet. There was a bit of swing with the new ball for the first nine or 10 overs and that is when Hoggy took his two wickets. But we plugged away and did pretty well to have them 180 for 4 at the close."
Hoggard took two wickets in eight balls at the start of Pakistan's reply. Shoaib Malik played a dreadful shot, chipping a simple catch to Plunkett at mid-wicket, and Asim Kamal was trapped plum in front by an inswinger.
Salman Butt and Yousuf settled the home side's nerves with a 56-run partnership, which was broken when Vaughan gave Plunkett his first bowl in Test cricket. Butt pulled Plunkett's fourth ball for four but the powerful fast bowler gained revenge in his second over when the left-hander drove loosely at a good-length delivery and was caught behind.
Vaughan used Plunkett sparingly, with his eight overs being bowled in three spells. It would be unfair to judge a bowler's potential on one show, but the wicket and a another day's experience will have helped him.
"I thought Liam had an excellent first day in the field," said Harmison. "He was very nervous. He was nervous before he went out to bat and even more nervous before he had his first ball. But I think he would have gone to bed a very happy and proud man because he did very well for a 20-year-old on his debut."
Collingwood probably did not have a very good night's sleep after falling four runs short of the hundred he wanted and deserved. Indeed, the vision of the top-edged hook falling into Danish Kaneria's hands five yards short of the fine leg boundary is likely to wake him up in a cold sweat for some time to come.
It would be wrong to criticise Collingwood for the shot. He had added 25 valuable runs and Inzamam, by bringing fine-leg up, had invited the stroke.
Shoaib's bouncer was too fast and Collingwood failed to control the shot. As the ball sailed through the air he stood watching with his bat behind his head, and his shoulders slumped when Kaneria held on. The return of Andrew Strauss and the batting of Ian Bell and Kevin Pietersen means that Collingwood may have to wait some time for another chance in Test cricket, but his innings proved that he is capable of performing at this level.
Shot of the day
HASAN RAZA: The batsman looked nervous in the first Test in Multan but yesterday he clipped his first ball to midwicket for four. It was a beautiful stroke from a young player with heaps of talent.
Ball of the day
SHOAIB AKHTAR: Paul Collingwood was unbeaten on 96 when Inzamam-ul-Haq brought deep square-leg up to save the single, but Shoaib, undaunted, still bowled a good bouncer which took the top edge of Collingwood's bat and carried to fine leg. Collingwood was devastated.
Moment of day
LIAM PLUNKETT: Plunkett had a mixed introduction to Test cricket. He batted for 82 minutes for nine, but conceded too many runs. The highlight, though, was a first Test wicket, with his 11th ball.
Scoreboard from Lahore
England won toss; second day of five
England - First innings (Overnight: 248 for 6)
P D Collingwood c Danish Kaneria b Shoaib Akhtar 96 250 mins, 162 balls, 15 fours
S D Udal c Asim Kamal b Danish Kaneria 10 39 mins, 21 balls, 1 four
L E Plunkett b Mohammad Sami 9 82 mins, 51 balls
M J Hoggard not out 1 15 mins, 5 balls
S J Harmison c Kamran Akmal b Mohammad Sami 0 1 min, 1 ball
Extras (b0, lb5, w0, nb5) 10
Total (417 min, 94 overs) 288
Fall (cont): 7-249 (Udal), 8-280 (Collingwood), 9-288 (Plunkett), 10-288 (Harmison).
Bowling: Shoaib Akhtar 22-6-45-1 (nb3) (5-3-5-0, 5-1-11-0, 4-0-13-0, 8-2-16-1); Naved-ul-Hasan 20-3-76-2 (9-2-28-0, 8-1-34-2, 3-0-14-0); Mohammad Sami 18-2-57-2 (7-2-38-0, 6-0-14-0, 1-0-1-0, 4-0-4-2); Shoaib Malik 14-1-58-3 (nb2) (one spell); Danish Kaneria 20-2-47-2 (3-1-3-0, 17-1-44-2).
Progress: Second day (min 98 overs): 250: 335 mins, 78.1 overs. New ball: taken after 80 overs at 253-7. Innings closed 11.27am.
Pakistan - First innings
Shoaib Malik c Plunkett b Hoggard 0 3 mins, 6 balls
Salman Butt c Jones b Plunkett 28 94 mins, 64 balls, 4 fours
Asim Kamal lbw b Hoggard 5 15 mins, 8 balls, 1 four
Mohammad Yousuf not out 84 216 mins, 149 balls, 14 fours
* Inzamam-ul-Haq retired hurt 35 85 mins, 52 balls, 5 fours
Hasan Raza c Flintoff b Harmison 21 41 mins, 32 balls, 4 fours
Shoaib Akhtar not out 0 11 mins, 6 balls
Extras (b 1, lb 5, w 1, nb 5) 12
Total (4 wkts, 236 mins, 52 overs) 185
Fall: 1-0 (Shoaib Malik), 2-12 (Asim Kamal), 3-68 (Salman Butt), 4-180 (Hasan Raza).
To bat: ÝKamran Akmal, Mohammad Sami, Naved-ul-Hasan, Danish Kaneria.
Bowling: Hoggard 8-2-22-2 (5-2-11-2, 3-0-11-0); Flintoff 14-5-34-0 (nb5, w1) (4-1-11-0, 4-2-4-0, 3-1-8-0, 3-1-11-0); Harmison 17-2-56-1 (10-1-41-0, 7-1-15-1); Plunkett 8-0-37-1 (3-0-19-1, 2-0-7-0 2-0-10-0, 1-0-1-0); Udal 3-0-19-0, Collingwood 2-0-11-0 (one spell each).
Progress: Lunch: 12-2 (Salman Butt 7) 4.1 overs. 50: 72 mins, 15.5 overs. 100: 125 mins, 27 overs. Tea: 147-3 (Mohammad Yousuf 70, Inzamam-ul-Haq 34) 39 overs. Inzamam retired hurt 35* after 40 overs at 148-3. 150: 185 mins, 40.1 overs. Bad light stopped play 4.34pm.
Mohammad Yousuf 50: 102 mins, 71 balls, 9 fours.
Umpires: D B Hair (Aus) and R E Koertzen (SA).Reuse content