Tour matches may enjoy a somewhat questionable status in the cricket calendar of today but they are nothing if not an opportunity. There are at least a couple of touring Pakistanis here with their eyes on the second Test and at least a couple of county players who have seized the chance to raise their own profile.
Stephen Peters, who went into this match with an average of 16, gave his prospects a fillip with a superb 142 on Thursday. Yesterday, it was the turn of David Wigley, who has played in only one championship game since his move from Worcestershire, to advertise himself.
Wigley, a 24-year-old pace bowler, has been looking for a county where his talents could flourish since realising it would not be his native Yorkshire. By his own admission, his first offerings for Northamptonshire were less than eye-catching.
"I played in a few one-dayers but I didn't do myself justice," he said, explaining why his name has not been prominent in recent selections. Picked here in place of the Australian Matthew Nicholson, he put that emphatically right, beginning with the simplest of return catches to dismiss no less an adversary than Younis Khan and ending with career-best figures of 5 for 77.
"I couldn't quite believe Younis drove it straight back at me but I had 30-odd dot balls bowling against him on Thursday and that was just as pleasing," Wigley said. "I've probably bowled better but a five-for on a flat pitch in front of the coach cannot do me any harm."
The tourists declared on 250 for 9 after Kamran Akmal, Jannisar Khan, Rao Iftikhar and Arshad Khan had in turn swung the bat to entertaining effect. None of that will have had much bearing on selection for the Old Trafford Test but what happens today might.
Northamptonshire were dismissed for 140 inside 39 overs in their second innings, Peters succumbing to a second-ball duck and Sourav Ganguly retiring without the chance to break a run of low scores when a ball from Shahid Nazir, the best of Pakistan's second-string attack, reared up and gashed his chin.
It left the tourists to chase 160 to win, which may be an important opportunity for Salman Butt, whose place at the head of the order is under threat from Taufeeq Umar. At the close he was 15 not out, Pakistan needing 136 more.Reuse content