Saeed has England on the run

First Test: Pakistan's batsmen build a formidable lead but the old accusations bubble back to the surface to haunt them
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The Independent Online
Everything about England this summer was supposed to be new: new ideas, new attitude, new results. The improvement has been undeniable, but any notion that the old England had been shaken off entirely proved an illusion yesterday when they suffered their worst day since last winter, leaving them with a difficult task if they are to prevent Pakistan taking a 1-0 lead in this three-Test Cornhill series.

From England's point of view, a familiar pattern repeated itself from so many Tests past: the tantalising period of raised hopes; the deflating effect of the batting collapse that the team's followers had fondly imagined was no longer inevitable; the deeper disappointment of seeing the opposition turn a good advantage into an overwhelming one, if somewhat reduced by events late in the day.

That said, England have had much the worse luck over the three days of the match so far. They have been on the wrong end of a couple of dubious lbw decisions, and as Pakistan, at the start of their second innings, set about ending virtually all hope England had of winning, a succession of edges refused to go to hand.

Having put on 136 for the first wicket, Saeed Anwar and Shadab Kabir eventually went in quick succession. England's hard-working bowlers deserved their belated breakthrough, but by then the damage was done. At the close, with the further loss of the nightwatchman Mushtaq Ahmed, Pakistan were 162 for three, a lead of 217 runs.

They will now look to declare some time this afternoon with a lead of 400 or so and give England a thoroughly testing time of it for the remainder of the match. England will cling to the belief - not totally fanciful - that the rushes of blood to which Pakistan are prone will yield seven quick wickets this morning, and a still attainable total in the fourth innings of the match.

Even if something like that were to happen, Pakistan's bowlers have so far shown they are much the more capable of getting help from what is fundamentally a batsman's wicket, and no Englishman will fancy having to deal with Mushtaq's leg spin on the last day, always assuming the inswinging yorkers of Waqar Younis, much in evidence again, have not got them first.

This opposition was always going to be a much more daunting prospect than India had been, and after two days in which honours were pretty much even, the third day proved inescapably that Pakistan are a team with more flair and variety than England can offer, for all the latter's industry and determination. Resuming overnight on 200 for five - a deficit of 140 runs - a huge amount depended on Graham Thorpe and Jack Russell. As it turned out, a sixth-wicket stand of 80, forcing Pakistan to wait for an hour and 40 minutes before they took their first wicket of the day, was not enough.

It may seem harsh to criticise a player who is by some way England's best batsman at the moment, but if ever Thorpe was needed to make a really big contribution it was now. Instead, he failed to turn a half-century into a century for the 17th time out of 19. His last Test hundred was 27 innings ago, on the 1994-95 tour of Australia.

This time he fell at 77, having survived chances at 47 and 73 along the way. He was his usual positive, purposeful self, intent on keeping on top of bowlers who can mesmerise all too easily, and he was largely succeeding. But his dismissal was a soft one.

After Mushtaq had put in 10 overs from the Nursery End in which he had alarmed England but not damaged them, it was the introduction of the third Pakistan seamer, Ata-ur-Rehman, that heralded the first decisive shift in fortunes in more than two days' cricket. Thorpe had just pulled Ata for four to the Tavern boundary. Then, attempting a forcing shot through the offside to a ball that perhaps bounced a little higher than he was expecting, he got a thick inside edge on to the top of his stumps.

A groan of dismay went round the ground. It was as if nobody could convince themselves that, at 260 for six, England were still more than adequately placed. Dominic Cork came in and straight-drove Waqar for three off the second ball he faced: a good shot, and an even better gesture. But it did not last. Flashing at a shortish one from Ata, he sent the ball fizzing to just above second slip's head where Saeed took an excellent catch.

Ian Salisbury then got a Waqar special that hit him full on the left boot, Alan Mullally had his stumps spreadeagled by a Waqar full toss, and then Jack Russell, after another resourceful knock, ran out of partners with the dismissal of Simon Brown. England had lost their last five wickets for only 25 runs, and the 55-run lead Pakistan thus gained underlined the significance of the half-century partnership between Rashid Latif and Ata for the last wicket of their team's first innings.

Saeed and Shadab Kabir sought to build on that advantage rapidly. The 18-year-old Shadab, who was promoted up the order on his Test debut because of a wrist injury to the normal opening batsman, Aamir Sohail, left the flourishes to Saeed, who added 88 to his first innings of 74 before Mullally induced him to edge one to Russell. Shadab, dropped in the covers by Graeme Hick, went the same way off Cork, and Mushtaq was well taken at first slip by Thorpe off Brown.

A lively crowd, for whom two streakers - one of each gender - had performed, were now even livelier, but it all had the distinct feeling of being too little too late.

Scoreboard from Lord's

Pakistan won toss

PAKISTAN - First Innings 340 (Inzamam-ul-Haq 148, Saeed Anwar 74).

ENGLAND - First Innings

(Overnight: 200 for 5)

G P Thorpe b Rehman 77

(241 min, 167 balls, six fours; rising delivery, thick inside edge on to top of stumps)

R C Russell not out 41

(173 min, 110 balls, 5 fours)

D G Cork c Anwar b Rehman 3

(7 min, 4 balls; extravagant drive at a wide one; second slip takes catch above head)

I D K Salisbury lbw b Waqar 5

(4 min, 5 balls, 1 four; caught on left boot by inswinging yorker)

A D Mullally b Waqar 0

(2 min, 2 balls; exposed by fast full toss which hits high up the stumps)

S J E Brown b Rehman 1

(23 min, 17 balls; lost his leg stump playing round a ball of full length)

Extras (b9 lb13 w1 nb4) 27

Total (425 mins 102.4 overs) 285

Fall of wickets: 6-260 (Thorpe) 7-264 (Cork) 8 for 269 (Salisbury) 9 for 269 (Mullally) 10-285 (Brown)

Bowling Wasim 22-4-49-1 (nb1) (11-3-25-1, 5-1-9-0, 6-0-15-0); Waqar 24- 6-69-4 (nb1) (3-1-19-0, 8-1-20-2, 7-3-12-0, 6-1-18-2), Mushtaq 38-5-92- 1 (6-1-17-0, 18-2-43-1, 14-2-32-0); Rehman 15.4-3-50-4 (nb3 w1) (7-1-20- 0, 3-0-13-1, 5.4-2-17-3), Sohail 3-1-3-0 (1 spell).

Progress: Second day: Close 200 for 5 (Thorpe 43 Russell 4) 71 overs. Third day: 250 in 361 min, 90.5 overs; lunch 269 for 9 (Russell 27) 97.3 overs; innings closed 2.01pm

Pakistan - Second innings

Saeed Anwar c Russell b Mullally 88

(198 min, 144 balls,eight fours, one six; edged one that lifted and moved away)

Shadab Kabir c Russell b Cork 33

(203 min, 151 balls, five fours; good-length ball, outside edge to wicketkeeper)

Ijaz Ahmed not out 20

(39 min, 26 balls, two fours, one six)

Mushtaq Ahmed c Thorpe b Brown 5

(21 min, 11 balls, one four; feet not to ball, thick edge gives first slip diving catch)

Inzamam-ul-Haq not out 0

(11 min, 11 balls)

Extras (b4 lb11 nb1) 16

Total (3 wkts, 239 mins, 57 overs) 162

Fall of wickets: 1-136 (Anwar), 2-136 (Shadab), 3-161 (Mushtaq).

Bowling: Cork 10-2-33-1 (nb1) (4-0-16-0 6-2-17-1), Brown 7-2-24-1 (4- 0-20-0 3-2-4-1), Salisbury 10-2-24-0 (7-1-17-0 3-1-7-0), Mullally 14-4- 34-1 (6-3-13-0 8-1-21-1), Hick 7-2-16-0, Ealham 9-2-16-0 (1 spell each).

Progress: Third day: 50 in 44 min, 10.2 overs. Tea 78-0 (Anwar 51, Shadab 14) 22 overs. 100 in 128 min, 33.2 overs. 150 in 215 min, 51.0 overs.

Umpires: S A Bucknor and P Willey. TV Umpire: J W Holder.

Match Referee: P L van der Merwe.

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