Shadab shows great promise

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The Independent Online

reports from Northampton

Northamptonshire 152 & 71-0 Pakistan 323

The smooth journey through the counties by the Pakistani tourists came close to being disrupted at their third port of call yesterday. However, an eighth-wicket stand of 171 between two 19-year-olds of immense promise restored a degree of dignity to their progress.

Shadab Kabir, a stylish left-handed batsman, made 99 before sadly snicking an edge to the wicketkeeper David Ripley just as everyone at Wantage Road was preparing to celebrate a memorable century. It may seem fanciful to compare him to Brian Lara, but, like Lara, he has the look of a player who was born with a bat in his hands.

Although this is his first tour, England have encountered him before when, during a World Cup warm-up match in Karachi, he made 74 for the Gymkhana Club. At the moment he would seem to have a struggle to break into the Test side, but with Salim Malik yet to bat on this tour there may be an opening.

His partner in establishing a first-class record for the eighth wicket against Northamptonshire was another player on his first tour of this country. Saqlain Mushtaq has arrived with a reputation as an outstanding off-spinner, but his 78 yesterday suggested that he has more than one string to his bow.

The two teenagers came together after a steady clatter of wickets throughout the morning had reduced Pakistan from 86 for 1 to 140 for 7 against a second-string Northamptonshire attack.

Scott Boswell, on his first-class debut for Northamptonshire, removed Shahid Anwar in the first over of the day and continued to bowl a good line while generating a fair amount of pace. He trapped Ijaz Ahmed leg before for 29 to claim his second wicket, before Asif Mujtaba was needlessly run out going for a third run, Jeremy Snape whipping off the bails following a fine throw from the substitute fielder Alec Swann.

Wasim Akram offered a brief cameo of 21 before being bowled trying to smash Snape's off-spin through mid-wicket and misjudging the length, and Rashid Latif left the stage to Kabir and Saqlain when he fell leg before, half forward to David Capel.

The Northamptonshire openers, Richard Montgomerie and Alan Fordham, reduced the deficit by 71 by the close, but Saqlain may have something to say about that today.