Pakistan 119 England 168-2: Harmison pyrotechnics inspire England to dominant position

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The Independent Online

English cricket has been desperately waiting for its spearhead to deliver the type of bowling display that made him the most feared fast bowler in cricket and turned England into potential world-beaters, and yesterday, on the first day of the second Test here, Stephen Harmison did just that. In two hostile and intelligent spells of fast bowling Harmison devastated Pakistan's highly acclaimed batting line-up to finish with the remarkable figures of 6 for 19 as the tourists were dismissed for 119.

After bowling Pakistan out in just 38.4 overs, England's batsman then proceeded to show deflated opponents that the Old Trafford pitch was not in fact a minefield, but a surface that rewarded fast bowlers who were prepared to bend their backs. Marcus Trescothick and Andrew Strauss edged catches through to the Pakistan wicketkeeper as England chipped away at Pakistan's total and, by the close of an eventful opening day, Alastair Cook and Kevin Pietersen had taken their side to 168 for 2, a score that gives them a lead of 49.

England supporters will feel that Harmison's pyrotechnics were long overdue, and they may well be right. After he took international cricket by storm in 2004, the 27-year-old's inability to change the course of matches has been frustrating but, with the Ashes fast approaching, every England fan is hoping that this is a sign of things to come.

Harmison was given excellent support by Monty Panesar, who claimed 3 for 21 in 7.4 challenging overs. Panesar spun the odd ball sharply and, in a 14-over partnership, the pair claimed Pakistan's final eight wickets for the addition of just 29 runs. Pakistan's total is the lowest first-innings score by a major Test-playing nation against England since Australia were bowled out for 118 at Edgbaston in 1997.

Harmison and England were aided by a fast, bouncy and slightly unpredictable pitch, and a woeful batting display from Pakistan. The venom of Harmison and the steep bounce he extracted from the helpful surface unsettled the tourists who showed minimal resistance.

Pakistan continue to have problems with their openers and yesterday, after winning the toss, they invited Kamran Akmal, their wicketkeeper, lasted longer than his specialist partner, Imran Farhat, but was never comfortable against the new ball on a pitch with sharp movement.

Strauss had five very forgettable days during the one-day series against Sri Lanka, but on this occasion most of his plans brought success. His first decision, the positioning of a very deep gully to Farhat, worked a treat. Kevin Pietersen looked out of place standing 10 yards deeper than the slip cordon, but when Farhat sliced a wild drive straight to him in the fourth over of the day it all seemed so obvious. In his next over, Harmison accounted for Akmal, who pushed at a leg-cutter and Trescothick took a good low catch at first slip.

Younis Khan and Mohammad Yousuf were troubled by the occasional misbehaving delivery but were rectifying the early setbacks when Strauss turned to Panesar. A number of Old Trafford experts had insisted that the pitch would not assist spinners, yet the second ball Panesar bowled turned acutely and kept low.

Panesar's fourth delivery spun away from the bat, too, and Yousuf edged a simple catch to Geraint Jones. The wicket encouraged Strauss to bring Harmison back for the final over before lunch and with his first ball the paceman snared Younis, leaving Pakistan perilously placed on 90 for 4.

After the interval England will have been tempted to turn to Matthew Hoggard, but persisted with Panesar, gaining immediate reward when Faisal Iqbal edged a cut through to the wicketkeeper.

Fathoming the mood of Inzamam-ul-Haq is always challenging but it is hard to believe he was anything but angry with the display of his top order. In the following over a lifter from Harmison took the shoulder of his bat and lobbed to Pietersen in the gully. In 16 remarkable balls, either side of lunch, Pakistan had lost 4 for 3 and their immediate future lay with the blades of Abdul Razzaq and Shahid Afridi, two dangerous but hugely inconsistent strokeplayers.

Shahid slogged Panesar for a four and a six and Razzaq drove the left-arm spinner to the cover boundary but, with Harmison firing thunderbolts at the other end, neither looked permanent. Shahid perished when a wild slog at Panesar gave Pietersen his third catch, and Harmison's hostility proved too much for Razzaq and Mohammad Sami. The final wicket, the farcical run-out of Danish Kaneria, summed up Pakistan's incompetence.

Moment of the day

For a bowler with so many assets, Steve Harmison has not led the England team off the field often enough. The sight of him striding up tothe Pavilion after taking 6 for 19, the second-best figures of his Test career, was welcomed by every England fan.

Shot of the day

Two-thirds of Pakistan's paltry total were scored while Mohammad Yousuf and Younis Khan were in. Younis top-scored but Yousuf's stunning extra cover drive was the stroke of the day. Sajid Mahmood's delivery was not a half-volley but it raced through the covers for four.

Ball of the day

After a relaxing lunch Inzamam-ul-Haq would have been expecting a gentle loosener from Steve Harmison for pudding, but the first ball he faced kicked off a length, hit the shoulder of his bat and lobbed to gully. It was an unplayable delivery and it sealed Pakistan's fate.

Weather and TV times

Weather Dry, sunny. Max: 25C.

Television Sky Sports 1, 10.30.


Pakistan won toss

Pakistan - First innings

ÝKamran Akmal c Trescothick b Harmison 4 27 mins, 18 balls, 1 four

Imran Farhat c Pietersen b Harmison 0 16 mins, 11 balls

Younis Khan c Collingwood b Harmison 44 100 mins, 62 balls, 6 fours

Mohammad Yousuf c Jones b Panesar 38 84 mins, 58 balls, 6 fours

*Inzamam-ul-Haq c Pietersen b Harmison 0 13 mins, 3 balls

Faisal Iqbal c Jones b Panesar 3 5 mins, 10 balls

Abdul Razzaq b Harmison 9 40 mins, 30 balls, 2 fours

Shahid Afridi c Pietersen b Panesar 15 19 mins, 16 balls, 2 fours, 1 six

Mohammad Sami c Strauss b Harmison 1 6 mins, 7 balls

Umar Gul not out 1 17 mins, 11 balls

Danish Kaneria run out (Pietersen-Jones TV replay) 0 6 mins, 6 balls

Extras (b 0, lb 2, w 2, nb 0, pens 0) 4

Total (171 mins, 38.4 overs) 119

Fall: 1-4 (Imran Farhat), 2-9 (Kamran Akmal), 3-90 (Mohammad Yousuf), 4-90 (Younis Khan), 5-93 (Faisal Iqbal), 6-93 (Inzamam-ul-Haq), 7-112 (Shahid Afridi), 8-113 (Mohammad Sami), 9-118 (Abdul Razzaq), 10-119 (Danish Kaneria).

Bowling: Hoggard 9-1-30-0 (one spell); Harmison 13-7-19-6 (6-3-11-2 7-4-8-4); Mahmood 6-1-33-0 (w1); Collingwood 3-0-14-0 (w1); Panesar 7.4-3-21-3 (one spell).

Progress: First day: 50 in 80 mins, 17.1 overs. Lunch 93-4 (Inzamam-ul-Haq 0, Faisal Iqbal 3) 26 overs. 100 in 140 mins, 30.5 overs. Innings closed 2.29pm

England - First innings

M E Trescothick c Kamran Akmal b Mohammad Sami 5 36 mins, 29 balls, 1 four

*A J Strauss c Kamran Akmal b Abdul Razzaq 42 119 mins, 85 balls, 6 fours

A N Cook not out 65 166 mins, 136 balls, 9 fours

K P Pietersen not out 38 83 mins, 49 balls, 5 fours

Extras (b 8, lb 4, w 1, nb 5, pens 0) 18

Total (for 2 wkts, 203 mins, 49 overs) 168

Fall: 1-30 (Trescothick), 2-95 (Strauss).

To bat: P D Collingwood, I R Bell, ÝG O Jones, S I Mahmood, M J Hoggard, S J Harmison, M S Panesar.

Bowling: Mohammad Sami 13-2-36-1 (w1); (6-1-16-1 7-1-20-0); Umar Gul 9-1-39-0 (nb2) (4-0-12-0 5-1-27-0); Abdul Razzaq 8-2-23-1 (nb3) (2-0-5-0 6-2-18-1); Danish Kaneria 14-4-49-0 (13-4-48-0 1-0-1-0); Shahid Afridi 5-0-9-0 (one spell).

Progress: First day: Tea 49-1 (Strauss 29, Cook 5) 15 overs. 50 in 67 mins, 16.3 overs. 100 in 128 mins, 28.4 overs. 150 in 180 mins, 42 overs.

Cook 50: 120 mins, 93 balls, 7 fours.

Umpires: S A Bucknor (West Indies) and S J A Taufel (Australia)

TV replay umpire: I J Gould (England)

Match referee: R S Madugalle (Sri Lanka)