England salvage draw

Faisalabad, November 24:

Geraint Jones and Ashley Giles kept their cool in testing conditions to salvage a draw after England’s top batting order collapsed on the last day of the second Test against Pakistan on Thursday. England, chasing a challenging 285-run target to square the three-match series, were uncomfortably placed at 138-6 when Giles walked in to join Jones with 26 more overs to go. Jones (30 not out) and Giles (13 not out) faced pace from one end and probing spin from the other to take England to 164-6 at stumps when bad light stopped play with 16 overs remaining.

Pakistan earlier rode on skipper Inzamam-ul-Haq’s record 24th Test century to set the stiff target. Inzamam cracked an unbeaten 100 to break Javed Miandad’s Pakistani record of 23 Test hundreds. He hit one six and nine fours in his 134-ball knock. England skipped a few heartbeats when Rana Naved-ul-Hasan (3-30) and Shoaib Akhtar (3-61) wrecked their top order with four quick wickets to raise hopes of a Pakistani victory. The tourists were tottering at 20-4 in the sixth over when Andrew Flintoff (56) steadied the innings with an 80-run stand for the fifth wicket with Kevin Pietersen (42). Just when it seemed that Flintoff would steer his team to safety with his typically aggressive knock, he was caught off his gloves at gully off a wild stroke to become Akhtar’s third victim. He hit one six and nine fours in his 98-ball knock.

But Jones and Giles applied themselves well to deny Pakistan further success, batting nearly 10 overs under pressure.

England virtually gave up the chase after Marcus Tresocthick, Andrew Strauss and Ian Bell fell for ducks, and captain Michael Vaughan for nine. Akhtar began the slide by rattling Trescothick’s stumps with the third ball of the innings before Naved bowled Strauss in his opening over. Two overs later, Akhtar had Bell caught behind and then Naved trapped Vaughan leg-before. England had a chance of squaring the series in the morning session of the topsy-turvy day, but were in danger of losing it in the afternoon. They needed one early wicket, that of Inzamam, who had only tail-enders to give him company. Pakistan were 199 ahead with four wickets in hand when play resumed, but in-form Inzamam saved the match with his brilliant knock. Inzamam followed his first-innings 109 with not out 100 to bec-ome the second Pakistani after Hanif Mohammad (1961-62) to score a century in each innings of a Test against England. The final Test starts next Tuesday.