Harmison, Flintoff wrest initiative

Multan, November 12:

Two wickets apiece for pacemen Andrew Flintoff and Steve Harmison neutralised Pakistan’s early advantage and left England in the ascendancy at the end of day one of the opening Test in Multan.

Pakistan were comfortably placed at 161-1 before a determined display from the England pace duo and some tight spin bowling reduced the hosts to 244-6 when bad light stopped play with 2.2 overs remaining.

Flintoff finished with 2-49, while Harmison grabbed both of his wickets in his first over after tea. Pakistan’s hopes of regaining the initiative rest on captain Inzamam-ul Haq, the last specialist batsman. Inzamam was not out on 41 with Mohammad Sami on one.

England, playing their first Test series after defeating Australia in September to regain the Ashes after 18 years, could be satisfied with their day’s work in challenging conditions.

The pitch had neither pace nor bounce for their pacemen. It did turn, but too slowly to really trouble Pakistan’s batsmen.

Pakistan started well with left-handed opener Salman Butt cracking an impressive 74 for his second Test half-century to raise hopes of a big first-innings total.

Butt put on 80 for the first wicket with Shoaib Malik (39) and 81 for the second with vice-captain Younis Khan (39) after his team had elected to bat.

However, England’s 36-year-old debutant off-spinner Shaun Udal struck a crucial breakthrough when he removed Butt in just his seventh over of Test cricket.

Butt struck 11 fours before being caught by a diving Geraint Jones. The wicket-keeper reacted swiftly to hold the ball after it popped through stand-in captain Marcus Trescothick’s hands at slip and then off his head.

Trescothick led in the absence of Michael Vaughan, who was ruled out of the match due to a knee injury.


PAKISTAN — 1st innings

S Malik lbw b Flintoff 39

S Butt c Jones b Udal 74

Y Khan lbw b Harmison 39

M Yousuf b Flintoff 5

Inzamam not out 41

H Raza b Harmison 0

K Akmal c Trescothick b Hoggard 28

M Sami not out 1

Extras: 17 (lb7, nb10)

Total: 244/6

FoW: 1-80, 2-161, 3-166,4 -181, 5-183, 6-238

England bowling: Hoggard 17-3-45-1, Harmison 16-5-37-2, Flintoff 17.4-5-49-2, Collingwood 4-1-15-0, Giles 16-3-44-0, Udal 17-3-47-1