The status of tour matches in the county calendar changed long enough ago now for a tendency towards only semi-competitive cricket to be fairly unremarkable. Yet there were moments of excitement here yesterday. Shahid Afridi, who was briefly a star turn for Leicestershire in 2001, was off the mark with a towering six off Claude Henderson but did not stay around long. Inzamam-ul-Haq, though not playing, also attracted a crowd of worshippers to the pavilion when he picked up a commemorative plaque.
Later, Kamran Akmal, Pakistan's swashbuckling wicketkeeper, smashed an unbeaten 62 off 81 balls with five fours and four sixes, two on to the roof of the pavilion, three off the unfortunate Henderson.
The most productively satisfying practice was enjoyed by their openers, Salman Butt and Imran Farhat, who looked untroubled in putting on 145 before the former deflected an inswinging delivery on to his stumps. Ten days ahead of the opening Test, their batting already looks in ominously good fettle, although on a pitch offering only negligible assistance to the bowlers they would have faced a bigger test had Leicestershire not left out Stuart Broad and Australian Adam Griffith.
Butt was a first victim for the 21-year-old right-arm seamer Nick Walker, who claimed three on an impressive debut for Leicestershire, where he hopes to revive his career after being released by Derbyshire.
Farhat, favourite to pip Butt to open with Shoaib Malik at Lord's, retired himself 19 short of a century, which said something for the nature of the occasion. The Pakistanis declared 11 runs in arrears before Umar Gul and Mohammad Sami chipped out a wicket each. The fitness of Rana Naved-ul-Hasan to participate in the tour will be determined this week.Reuse content