Pakistan 462 England 113-3: Pakistan's progress undermined by banning of unsporting Afridi

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The Independent Online

A dramatic and satisfying day for Pakistan was overshadowed by an act of unsporting behaviour from Shahid Afridi, which resulted in him being banned from next week's final Test against England in Lahore. Afridi received a one Test and two one-day international ban for a level three offence after he was found guilty of attempting to scuff up the pitch with his studs while the umpires and England batsmen were distracted by an explosion at the side of the playing area.

It was a needless and foolish act by Afridi, whose brilliant 92 earlierhad helped Pakistan take control of the second Test. In reply to his team's first innings total of 462, England were struggling on 92-2 when a deafening blast reverberated around the ground here in Faisalabad. Initially it was feared that a bomb had gone off, but these concerns were quickly dispelled when police inspected the site of the explosion to find it was nothing more sinister than a gas cylinder bursting.

As the officials and players looked to the boundary, Afridi walked down the middle of this bland, lifeless pitch. And in an attempt to give himself and Danish Kaneria - Pakistan's two leg-spinners - an area that might give them some assistance, he pirouetted on a good length.

Time will tell whether Afridi's spike marks have any effect on how the pitch plays, but with footwork like that it cannot be long before the BBC ask him to join Darren Gough on Strictly Come Dancing.

As the players prepared to get on with the game, Marcus Trescothick and Ian Bell, England's not out batsmen, noticed the scuffed-up area and notified the umpires.

Darrell Hair and Simon Taufel called Inzamam-ul-Haq, the Pakistan captain, over to show him the damage but he seemed to have little idea of what had taken place. Afridi might have got away with the improper act had a television camera not remained on the pitch and recorded the incident. "This ban should serve as a message to players that this type of behaviour is not allowed," said Roshan Mahanama, the match referee.

"Mr Afridi apologised for his conduct and said he was very disappointed in himself for acting in that way. However, a player of his calibre and experience is a role model and he should set a good example."

The stoppage did not help England's cause and Trescothick added only one run to his score before he edged a catch to the Pakistan wicketkeeper. Bell and Kevin Pietersen played out three overs before bad light ended proceedings but England, who were teetering on 113 for 3, still require a further 150 runs to avoid the follow-on.

The Iqbal Stadium, the venue that witnessed the Mike Gatting-Shakoor Rana stand-off in 1987-88 is no stranger to controversy, and Afridi was not the only player to be involved in a contentious incident.

Inzamam was astonishingly run out after completing a wonderful hundred, in a piece of cricket that pushed the spirit of cricket to the limit. There were also two low catches claimed by fielders which, had the on-field officials been allowed to refer them to a third umpire, could easily have been given not out.

Inzamam was on 95 when Afridi edged a low catch to Trescothick fielding at slip. Afridi stood his ground, unsure that the catch had carried, before umpire Hair raised his finger.

Inzamam completed his 23rd Test century and the right-hander had moved on to 109 when he pushed a Stephen Harmison delivery back to the bowler. The captain did not look to take a single but Harmison picked the ball up and threw it at the stumps.

Inzamam, whose back foot had never left the crease, moved sideways to get out of the way and the ball broke the wicket while his right boot was fractionally off the ground. Hair wrongly - a batsman should be given not out if he is in his crease and leaves it to avoid injury - asked Nadeem Ghouri, the third umpire, to make the line call and he had no option but to give Inzamam out.

With Inzamam gone England would have had hopes of dismissing Pakistan for fewer than 400. But aggressive and possibly angry batting from Kamran Akmal allowed the hosts to reach a very competitive total. Andrew Flintoff, with 1 for 76 off 29 overs, was England's best bowler.

England began positively in reply but in the 12th over Andrew Strauss attempted to pull Rana Naved-ul-Hasan for four and bottom-edged the ball on to his leg stump. Michael Vaughan fell in Rana's next over when a yorker uprooted his middle stump. Both captains had plenty to think about last night, but Inzamam went to bed knowing that his last nine centuries had resulted in Pakistan victories. Should the trend continue, the series is his.

Shoaib Akhtar was also disciplined. He was fined 20 per cent of his match fee for having oversized logos on his batting gloves.

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