Butt keeps Pak afloat on Trescothick’s day

Multan, November 14:

Salman Butt scored a second successive half-century to keep Pakistan’s hopes alive in the opening Test against England here today. The young opener followed his first-innings 74 with a gutsy 53 not out as Pakistan reached 125-2 in their second innings at stumps on the third day after conceding a lead of 144. They still trail by 19. Nightwatchman Mohammad Sami was yet to open his account when bad light stopped play with nine overs remaining. Stand-in captain Marcus Trescothick earlier smashed a sparkling 193 to help England post 418 in reply

to Pakistan’s first-innings total of 274.

Inspired by Trescothick, England threatened to bat Pakistan out of the match before slipping late in the innings against the second new ball. Their last four wickets fell for 30 runs.

Seamer Shabbir Ahmed grabbed three of the last four wickets to finish with 4-54. He also completed 50 Test wickets during his 10th match. Pakistan batted positively despite losing makeshift opener Shoaib Malik early in the innings, with Butt showing the way with a disciplined knock under pressure.

Butt, 21, added 93 for the second wicket with Younis Khan (48), who fell to a brilliant low catch in the slips by Trescothick off fast bowler Andrew Flintoff in the penultimate over.

Trescothick also had a hand in the first dismissal when he caught Malik (18) off paceman Steve Harmison. Trescothick was also in the limelight in the morning session, displaying immense concentration during his long stay at the wicket. He was quick to spot errors in line and length, hitting two sixes and 20 fours in his 305-ball knock. The left-handed opener, who was on 135 in his team’s overnight total of 253-3, played a key role in boosting England after nightwatchman Matthew Hoggard and Kevin Pietersen (five) had fallen early. England were then three runs behind Pakistan’s total.

Trescothick continued to bat aggressively and was involved in a vital 93-run stand for the sixth wicket with all-rounder Flintoff. He hit the first six of the morning, hoisting Kaneria over long-off. Flintoff also exposed Pakistan’s bowling limitations on an easy-paced pitch, smashing

seven fours in his 79-ball knock. Trescothick fell to the second new ball, caught behind off Shabbir in the afternoon. Pakistan did well to claim two early wickets before being thwarted by Trescothick and Flintoff. Akhtar struck first when he had Hoggard caught behind and then Kaneria had Pietersen caught at short-leg by Butt. Pakistan skipper Inzamam-ul-Haq brought in Kaneria just when Pietersen had come in to bat and the leg-spinner struck in his very first over.