England pick up as tourists switch off

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The Independent Online
This was an extraordinary day. A pitch which looked unfit for human consumption turned out to be a red herring and the Pakistanis, for all their stated intentions to win the Texaco series, played as if they had completed the main business of the tour on Monday by winning the Test series and were not too bothered.

England, on the other hand, had picked themselves up in remarkable and admirable fashion and their approach was wholly different to their rather hangdog display at The Oval. It was most encouraging to see how the players reacted so soon after Monday's defeat and especially so with the winter's tour coming up.

In the morning, the bowling was well directed and the two left handers Saeed Anwar and Aamir Sohail were never allowed any freedom outside the off stump.

Alan Mullally was most impressive and gave away only 11 runs in his first seven overs. He bowled a tight line just outside the off stump and although Saeed was trying all the time to make room for himself so that he could make his favourite stroke, the square cut, he simply could not get Mullally away.

Curiously, the uneven bounce seemed more pronounced early on when Saeed was trying to cut and almost invariably the low bounce took the ball under his bat. Darren Gough also played his part, giving away only 16 runs in his first five overs and his control was better than it often is. Later on, Robert Croft played a most important part taking 2 for 36 in 10 excellent overs of off-spin. He confirmed all the good impressions he made at The Oval.

When Pakistan's first wicket fell, at 82, it was in the 24th over and the remaining batsmen found themselves under great pressure to push the score along and make up for this sedentary start. The England bowlers, backed up by good fielding, had throttled the early batting and taken control.

Even so, the England batsmen had every chance of losing their way but they were given a wonderful start by Alec Stewart and Nick Knight. They attacked the bowling from the start and never let Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis settle down.

This opening partnership effectively won the match although both Mike Atherton and Matthew Maynard made handsome contributions later on.

To balance the equation though one has to say that this was an extremely slow pitch but even so Wasim and Waqar can be fast and hostile on any surface if they are in the mood. On Monday at The Oval they could not wait to get the ball and they ran in to bowl as if their lives depended on it. Now, it was altogether more leisurely.

Mushtaq Ahmed, the little leg-spinner, was also different. On Monday he never had less than three men round the bat; now he had none except briefly after Aamir Sohail had had Graham Thorpe stumped. He was much less bouncy than usual.