Tearful demise for pitiful England

Saqlain registers his best one-day figures as batsmen again demonstrate their vulnerability to spin
  • @stephenbrenkley

There was always the chance that this one-day series would end in tears for England, but nobody quite foretold how they might fall. As their batsmen were again lured to a pitiful downfall by Pakistan's spin bowlers - reason enough for a good weep - the team's obvious discomfort was aggravated by crowd disturbances.

There was always the chance that this one-day series would end in tears for England, but nobody quite foretold how they might fall. As their batsmen were again lured to a pitiful downfall by Pakistan's spin bowlers - reason enough for a good weep - the team's obvious discomfort was aggravated by crowd disturbances.

The first one came outside the ground when hundreds of police, confronted by thousands of fans desperate to get into the match and climbing walls to do so, twice restored order by releasing several canisters of tear gas after wading in with their batons. On both occasions the gas wafted on to the pitch, forcing the match to be held up for 10 minutes while the players covered their eyes, and on both occasions England lost a wicket immediately after the resumption.

The second intrusion came midway through Pakistan's innings when Andrew Flintoff, who was fielding on the boundary, had plastic bottles thrown at him. No more than boisterousness perhaps, but it was, at the least, disconcerting. Flintoff was unhurt but the potential disruption was clear and England's captain Nasser Hussain approached the umpire, Mian Aslam, and asked him to intervene. All the time, England were losing the match and the series. They might have anticipated this but their disappointment must have been heightened because of the way in which they set off, winning the first match by chasing 305 to win. It was a week ago and now it seems like a century.

Pakistan won the second match easily and deservedly eased home by six wickets in the decider. They had only to overhaul England's miserable total of 158 from 42.5 overs and, despite the loss of two wickets to the new ball, were rarely troubled.

Once more, the tourists were not up to the job of rebuffing Pakistan's spinners. It was the turn of the off-spinner Saqlain Mushtaq to reap a rich harvest, helped at every turn, as it were, by England's batsmen. Their plan was to attack but they did so injudiciously and Saqlain's 5 for 20 was his best return in 129 one-dayers.

A couple of dismissals were grotesque and it is certain now that Pakistan will prepare spinning pitches for the Tests. England's footwork was based on the rules for three-legged races and if the occasion got to them - there was mayhem outside the ground for hours beforehand - they will have to become accustomed to it.

Hussain refused to use the circumstances as an excuse. "It's full of chaos here, the chaos theory," he said. "It must make great viewing. There isn't a dull moment but it does make it a bit harder when you're out in the middle."

As for the tear gas, Marcus Trescothick, who was batting during its initial advent, said it was very uncomfortable and he felt like choking. "It was a bit scary because you just didn't know what was happening at first. But it only lasted two or three minutes," he said.

England could probably have done with winning the toss. Their practice has lately been to win the right to bat second. However, considering the goings-on outside, the game began in relative quiet.

Marcus Trescothick gave the new ball a good thump and Alec Stewart looked more at home than of late before tear gas stopped play for the first time in the ninth over - England losing two wickets in quick succession after the resumption.

Stewart edged a drive and Hussain was then given out lbw to Wasim Akram. It was an appalling decision - the ball might have been hitting Hussain's stumps but it pitched some five or six inches outside leg stump which renders an appeal null and void. Hussain merely shook his head - later, commendably and essentially, refusing to comment.

If that made England's task difficult, Saqlain made it impossible. He took a wicket with his first ball when Graeme Hick, his foot nowhere near the pitch, was bowled through the gate. Four balls later, Trescothick tried to work an off break to leg and was bowled.

Of the rest to fall to Saqlain, Craig White hit a full toss down deep square leg's throat, Ashley Giles was beaten by a top spinner soon after the second tear-gas interruption and Darren Gough flailed across the line. Graham Thorpe and Mark Ealham took England beyond three figures but at the last Thorpe fell to a messy run-out.

England at least bowled and fielded properly, but their cause was lost, even though Andrew Caddick induced two catches with early movement. Inzamam-ul-Haq's vast experience was evident and he made 60 not out from 108 balls. England let a couple of chances go begging - including a run-out opportunity against Inzamam, who makes a habit of these things.

Thus, the series ended as it had begun and continued almost throughout, in disarray. The list of impediments to play here already includes heat, dew and midge swarms, tear gas and bottle throwing. It could yet become longer, but spin might be quite sufficient for the English batsmen.


One day; Pakistan won toss


M E Trescothick b Saqlain Mushtaq 36 84 min, 48 balls, 5 fours ÿA J Stewart c Moin b Abdur Razzaq 18 46 min, 33 balls, 2 fours *N Hussain lbw b Wasim Akram 1 5 min, 6 balls G A Hick b Saqlain Mushtaq 3 27 min, 10 balls G P Thorpe run out (Azhar-Moin-Shahid) 39 118 min, 71 balls, 1 four A Flintoff c Azhar Mahmood b Shahid 10 23 min, 21 balls, 1 four C White c Mushtaq b Saqlain Mushtaq 0 4 min, 4 balls M A Ealham b Abdur Razzaq 23 49 min, 48 balls, 2 fours A F Giles lbw b Saqlain Mushtaq 11 28 min, 19 balls D Gough b Saqlain Mushtaq 0 2 min, 2 balls A R Caddick not out 1 3 min, 2 balls Extras (lb5 w4 nb7) 16 Total (199 min, 42.5 overs) 158

Fall: 1-36 (Stewart), 2-38 (Hussain), 3-63 (Hick), 4-64 (Trescothick), 5-85 (Flintoff), 6-86 (White), 7-133 (Ealham), 8-156 (Giles), 9-156 (Gough), 10-158 (Thorpe).

Bowling: Wasim Akram 7-0-27-1 (nb1) (one spell), Abdur Razzaq 10-0-40-2 (nb4,w4) (6-0-21-1 4-0-19-1), Azhar Mahmood 1-0-3-0, Mushtaq Ahmed 10-0-42-0 (4-0-24-0 6-0-18-0), Saqlain Mushtaq 8-0-20-5 (6-0-15-3 2-0-5-2), Shahid Afridi 6.5-1-21-1 (nb2) (5-1-15-1 1.5-0-6-0).


Imran Nazir c Hick b Caddick 0 3 min, 6 balls Shahid Afridi c Hussain b Caddick 9 9 min, 7 balls, 2 fours Salim Elahi c Hussain b Giles 23 62 min, 43 balls, 2 fours Inzamam-ul-Haq not out 60 173 min, 108 balls, 7 fours Yousuf Youhana b White 31 96 min, 90 balls, 2 fours Abdur Razzaq not out 17 Extras (lb6 w12 nb3) 21 Total (for 4, 183 min, 43.3 overs) 161

Fall: 1-0 (Imran), 2-9 (Shahid), 3-51 (Salim), 4-128 (Yousuf). Did not bat: *ÿMoin Khan, Azhar Mahmood, Wasim Akram, Saqlain Mushtaq, Mushtaq Ahmed.

Bowling: Caddick 9-1-46-2 (w6) (7-1-28-2 2-0-18-0), Gough 8-2-25-0 (nb2) (5-2-15-0 3-0-10-0), White 9.3-2-30-1 (nb1,w1) (6-2-9-0 3.3-0-21-1), Giles 10-0-36-1 (w2) (7-0-21-1 2-0-5-0 1-0-10-0), Ealham 5-0-9-0, Hick 2-0-9-0 (w3) (one spell each).

Umpires: Mian Aslam and Z I Pasha.

Man of the match: Saqlain Mushtaq.