Giles and Smith push Pakistan to the brink

CRICKET: Warwickshire again create something out of nothing after further careless batting from the tourists
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The Independent Online
There are few better sights in cricket than when sun and spin combine as they did here yesterday. As anyone who has recently watched England here will know, it is a rare combination, particularly for Warwickshire, whose spin pairing of Ashley Giles and Neil Smith combined with three wickets apiece to push Pakistan to the brink of defeat, after Mushtaq Ahmed had earlier bowled them back into the game with a sterling 7 for 91.

It was typical Warwickshire, whose knack of creating winning positions out of nothing continues to amaze all but their loyal membership, a figure that has now risen to 15,000, the largest in the land. And should they win today, the home side will receive pounds 7,500 from Tetley's.

However, hardy and resilient as they undoubtedly are, Warwickshire cannot claim to have engineered Pakistan's collapse from 89 for 1 to 147 for 8, on their own, and the tourists were once again culpable of some appaling batting.

True they had several injured and ill, including Saeed Anwar their star opener, who later batted at No 8. But as we have seen before from the visitors, an able body does not always equate to an able mind and only Ijaz Ahmed and Asif Mujtaba applied themselves as if there was a Test match five days away.

Apart from Saeed who remains unbeaten on 20, they were the only players to reach double figures. Full marks must go to Warwickshire for the way in which they harried and goaded the opposition into making mistakes. The influence of Dermot Reeve continues to exert itself even though he is undergoing a hip operation.

If the bowling was no more than steady, the catching and fielding were superb, with Dominic Ostler taking an outstanding catch at slip to get rid of Moin Khan, to go with the more straightforward one he took when Asif carelessly dabbed at Smith.

In a way, Pakistan's poor batting took the gloss off Mushtaq's bowling, which was by far the best performance of the day. The diminutive leg-spinner may not possess the constancy of threat posed by Shane Warne, but he now comes a clear second in a pantheon which includes India's Anil Kumble and Zimbabwe's Paul Strang.

Until recently Mushtaq was felt to have relied too heavily on his googly, a limitation he claims has been largely overcome by playing for Somerset.

"I used to get excited and think I could take a wicket every ball. County cricket taught me to be patient.''

The 225 wickets in three seasons for the county more or less proves the point, and he now claims to have a full repertoire at his disposal. If so, England's batsmen, unlike their counterparts' present state of mind, will have to remain alert at all times.

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