Irresistible Irani strikes

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The Independent Online
THE England A team are in complete control against Pakistan A after day two of the first Test in Multan, and the skipper, Nasser Hussain, helped lead the way with one of three half-centuries in England A's total of 285 for six. That gave them a lead of 148 on a pitch already showing signs of wear and tear and on which more than an occasional delivery is keeping very low.

Jason Gallian was top scorer with 62, putting on 119 for the first wicket with Nick Knight (46). But after the loss of three wickets for just two runs either side of lunch, Hussain and his Essex colleague Ronnie Irani took the match from the Pakistanis.

The all-rounder Irani, promoted to fill the No 5 spot for this match, made a belligerent 58, striking a total of two sixes and eight fours in his 86-ball stay. Both he and Hussain (52) were disappointed to be out in the last 20 minutes before tea. But Irani said afterwards: "We're more than pleased with our position. I think the pitch will get a lot worse and today's was a good team effort again. Nasser batted brilliantly, and, at first, all I concentrated on was supporting him. But my philosophy is the ball must be hit if it is there, so that's what I tried to do." Irani added 92 with Hussain, whose prolific tour form has now brought him five half-centuries in as many innings.

Craig White and Keith Piper then added a further 40 for the sixth wicket in the final session. White went lbw for 19 to the persevering left-arm fast bowler Kabir Khan, but Piper, in company with Ian Salisbury, made it through to close with 23 not out.

Only young Anthony McGrath failed, which in no way blurred the main feature of the day, which was the England top order's positive approach in conditions not ideal for stroke play.

Gallian and Hussain also hit sixes, and if the lead can be pushed beyond 200 tomorrow, Hussain's side will have an excellent chance of going 1- 0 up in this three-match series.

(Second day; Pakistan won toss)

PAKISTAN A - First Innings 137 (Shadid Anwar 50; I D K Salisbury 6-39)

ENGLAND A - First Innings

N V Knight c Wasim Yousif

b Asif Mujataba 46

J E R Gallian b Asif Mujataba 62

*N Hussain c Akram Raza

b Naveed Rana 52

A McGrath c Wasim Yousif

b Akram Raza 0

R C Irani b Mohammad Zahid 58

C White lbw b Kabir Khan 19

K J Piper not out 23

I D K Salisbury not out 4

Extras (b2, lb5, nb14) 21

Total (for 6, 94 overs) 285

Fall: 1-119, 2-120, 3-121, 4-213, 5-234, 6-274.

To Bat: D W Headley, R D Stemp, E S H Giddins.

Bowling: Kabir Khan 14-1-47-1; Mohammad Zahid 14-1-47-1; Naveed Rana 15-6-48-1; Nadeem Khan 15-2-57-0; Akram Raza 24-6-51-1; Asif Mujataba 12-3-22-2.

Umpires: Shakeel Khan and Mian Mohammad Asman.