The finest weather of this second Cornhill Test match was saved for the least consequential passage of play, with England's attempt to bowl Pakistan out providing little more in the end than glorified net practice for the players of both sides, once the excitement of early wickets had been stemmed. Had 31 overs not been lost to rain on Sunday evening, Mike Atherton's men might well have won a remarkable match, though it is never safe to conjecture where England's batsmen and Pakistan's mercurial bowlers are concerned.
What it has proved is that England's bowlers, out of sorts in Pakistan's first innings, have it in them to put this opposition under pressure, despite using Reader balls that are constantly going out of shape. It also proves that Pakistan's batting is far more susceptible to collapse when faced with a deficit (as the visitors were in their second innings) than it is on a moist pitch.
Victory was only a reality shared by the thousand or so spectators who turned up yesterday. As most of those were supporting Pakistan, England's chances were clearly reckoned to be slim. And yet, had Nasser Hussain held a difficult chance from Ijaz Ahmed at cover point, when the score was 142 for 4 (a lead of 89) with 51 overs to go, England might have found the belief and momentum to win.
Ijaz, realising that something completely different from his swashbuckling century in the first innings was needed to preserve Pakistan's 1-0 lead in this series, sat patiently on his splice. His let-off was the only blip in an otherwise sedate three and a half hour innings of 52, which ended when he gloved an attempted bouncer from Andy Caddick.
Earlier, Shadab Kabir, dropped by Graham Thorpe at slip off his first ball, had found defiance difficult, and he skied a pull shot off Chris Lewis that the bowler caught in front of the striker's stumps. Saeed Anwar, another made jittery by the demands of occupation, nibbled at Dominic Cork, the low edge carrying to Jack Russell.
Indeed only Inzamam-ul-Haq, indulged himself by playing his natural game. The bulky batsman is a fine player whose ponderous footwork sometimes gets him into trouble, and although England were lucky to dismiss him here, caught at third man cutting a long-hop, they must persist with a line wide of off-stump that will force him to move his feet.
Caddick was the pick of England's bowlers with 3 for 52, although the late appearance of Mike Atherton's leg-breaks ran him a close second. The dismissal of his Lancashire team-mate Wasim Akram - padding away a leg-break - was only his second Test wicket and 50 Tests separate it from his first, taken at The Oval in 1991 when he caught and bowled Dilip Vengsarkar.
It was the operation in 1991 for his chronic back condition that made Atherton give up bowling. He landed the majority of his deliveries, but it is unlikely to be a factor in deciding who will bowl in the final Test in 10 days' time.
All four seamers here have a case for inclusion, the extra bounce at the Oval perhaps suiting the length and style of Caddick, Mullally and Lewis more than Cork, who prefers swing and variable bounce to perform his mischief. Only by playing an extra bowler can any variety be accommodated, which means Russell will once again come under pressure should England look to play a spinner, as well as the six batsmen who played so well as a unit here.
However, England need to win and Alec Stewart will no doubt be persuaded to take the gloves given that it is a one-off, particularly after England's gallant comeback in this Test. Indeed, having experienced humiliation over their captain's decision to insert Pakistan, England's recovery and subsequent dominance in this game will have provided succour, instead of the widespread disappointment claimed by those who felt the poor showing of England's pace quartet on the first day had cost them the match.
Despite a hint of dampness on the first morning, the pitch was not well grassed enough to expect to bowl a side out for less than 250 - the normal benchmark for putting a team in. However, it was not the brave and ultimately correct move hindsight has, perhaps, shown it to be. Atherton more or less had to field first, the choice of four seamers forced upon him not by the nature of the pitch, but by the absence of a match-winning spinner in the English game.
True, the bowlers did not bowl well and the pitch certainly improved, although this was more a transformation from a damp and creased shirtfront ironed flat by intermittent wind and sun, than a snake pit scoured of its serpents.
More cricket, page 23
England won toss
PAKISTAN - First Innings 448 (Ijaz Ahmed 141, Moin Khan 101, Salim Malik 55, Asif Mujtaba 51; D G Cork 5-113).
ENGLAND - First Innings 501 (A J Stewart 170, N V Knight 113, J P Crawley 53).
Pakistan - Second Innings
Saeed Anwar c Russell b Cork 22
56 min, 45 balls, 3 fours
Shadab Kabir c and b Lewis 2
25 min, 13 balls
Ijaz Ahmed c Russell b Caddick 52
241 min, 150 balls, 2 fours
Inzamam-ul-Haq c Stewart b Caddick 65
94 min, 83 balls, 9 fours
Salim Malik c Cork b Caddick 6
18 min, 18 balls, 1 four
Asif Mujtaba run out (Atherton-Thorpe) 26
68 min, 64 balls, 2 fours
*Wasim Akram lbw b Atherton 7
55 min, 48 balls
Moin Khan not out 30
52 min, 52 balls, 3 fours
Mushtaq Ahmed not out 6
25 min, 27 balls
Extras (b4,lb12,nb10) 26
Total (for 7 dec, 322 min, 81 overs) 242
Did not bat: Waqar Younis, Ata-ur-Rehman.
Fall: 1-16 (Shadab Kabir), 2-34 (Saeed Anwar), 3-132 (Inzamam-ul-Haq), 4-142 (Salim Malik), 5-188 (Asif Mujtaba), 6-201 (Ijaz Ahmed), 7-221 (Wasim Akram).
Bowling: Mullally 15-2-43-0 (nb7) (5-0-19-0, 3-1-5-0, 7-1-19-0); Lewis 16-3-52-1 (nb6) (5-1-14-1, 6-0-27-0, 5-2-11-0); Caddick 17-4-52-3 (nb1) (6-2-21-0, 7-2-24-2, 4-0-7-1); Cork 16-2-49-1 (11-2-34-1, 5-0-15-0); Thorpe 10-3-10-0 (1-0-1-0, 9-3-9-0); Atherton 7-1- 20-1 (one spell).
Progress: Fourth day: Bad light stopped play 6.00pm; Pakistan 0 for 0, 0 overs. Fifth day: 50: 81 min, 18.1 overs. Lunch: 87-2 (Ijaz Ahmed 21, Inzamam-ul-Haq 30) 28 overs. 100: 127 min, 29.2 overs. 150: 184 min, 41.4 overs. Tea: 189-5 (Ijaz Ahmed 47, Wasim Akram 0) 56 overs. 200: 261 min, 60.5 overs. Pakistan declared at 5.20pm.
Ijaz Ahmed's 50: 220 min, 12 balls, 2 fours. Inzamam-ul-Haq's 50: 85 min, 75 balls, 6 fours.
Result: Match drawn.
Umpires: S A Bucknor and D R Shepherd.
TV Replay umpire: R Julian.
Match referee: P L van der Merwe.
Man of the match: A J Stewart.
Adjudicator: Mushtaq Mohammad.
Third Test: The Oval (22-26 August).Reuse content