Northants 269-3 Pakistan 97-3: Peters hits rare century to punish depleted Pakistan

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The Independent Online

The injury crisis afflicting Pakistan forced the tourists to delve into English league cricket merely to raise a side here yesterday.

A week before the second Test, with Shoaib Malik and Mohammad Asif joining Rana Naved-ul-Hasan and Shoaib Akhtar on the sick list, Pakistan are wary of risking further losses, particularly among their already heavily depleted bowling ranks. To that end, Abdul Razzaq, Mohammad Sami, Danish Kaneria and Umar Gul are all being rested, along with the all-rounder Shahid Afridi, Mohammad Yousuf and the captain, Inzamam-ul-Haq.

Younis Khan, who himself missed the first Test through injury, took over Inzamam's duties. There were chances also for the batsman Taufeeq Umar plus bowlers Rao Iftikhar and Samiullah Niazi, who have been added to the party.

But that still left two places to fill. Into the breach stepped the tall off-spinner Arshad Khan, who is playing for St Annes in the Northern League, along with Jannisar Khan, a pace bowler for Lancaster in the same competition.

Arshad can at least draw on international experience, having played in nine Tests and 58 one-day internationals; for his Peshawar team-mate Jannisar it was an occasion altogether more noteworthy. At 24 this is his first call-up to the national side at any level.

Excitement followed his dismissal of Rob White, nibbling at an away swinger as Northamptonshire lost their second wicket at 99, but it was a rare joyous moment for the Pakistanis on a day dominated by a first century in more than two years by Stephen Peters, whose 142 provided the main substance in the home side's 269-3.

After an opening stand of 71, Bilal Shafayat edged Niazi to second slip. Peters and Usman Afzaal put on 170 for the third wicket before the dismissal of Peters, caught at long leg giving Niazi his second success, prompted a declaration.

With the match cut from four days to three, it was a positive move by the county captain, David Sales. It looked even better when both Test openers, Salman Butt and Imran Farhat, fell inside the opening six overs of Pakistan's reply. A promising start from Gul ended with a leg-side caught behind but Younis hit an unbeaten half-century.

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