SPORT

England loses three early wickets

Ted Corbett

FAISALABAD: Next month the England players will reap the rewards of their summer success with awards from every body that represents sport. Andrew "Freddie" Flintoff will have a sideboard full of silverware, Michael Vaughan, the England captain, will be a national hero and when the rest return home for Christmas they will be worn out attending prize ceremonies.

On Monday, in a city of dust and mist they saw the other — more realistic — side of life for the second time in a couple of weeks. Shortly after their reply to

Pakistan's first innings of 462 began, they lost Vaughan and Andrew Strauss and the loudest sound in the Iqbal Stadium came from Danish Kaneria and Shahid Afridi cracking their knuckles as they got ready to bowl with plenty of runs to act as encouragement.

Perhaps it is just Pakistan home of what Europeans always call the dreaded lurgy, where England has only ever won twice and were players grow hysterical about umpiring errors.

Last night one English fan died — a plaque has already been erected to his memory — because his middle aged body could not cope with the extremes he found in Faisalabad, England is certainly not going to win this match and there was an umpiring error worth a heated argument.

Actually, it was a mistake that hurt Pakistan not England.

Afridi's fall

We expected a big burst from Afridi and more leisurely runs from Inzamam-ul-Haq but sadly Afridi hit two gorgeous sixes in succession off Matthew Hoggard, delicately late cut a four and then fell, rather tamely, to a slip catch. His 92 had six sixes and six fours in 85 balls and left us wondering where he ranks among the likes of Botham, Gilchrist, Flintoff, Pietersen, and Kapil Dev.

Inzamam stayed another nine overs, long enough to reach his 22nd Test century before he was out in a most curious way.

The bowler Steve Harmison threw down the stumps and after several replays Inzamam was given out. It appeared that Inzamam was taking evasive action — which means he was not out — not attempting a run — which means he was not out — and that it was difficult to see if his foot was behind the line. All the evidence points to a not out decision.

Still Pakistan went on — thanks to another neat, aggressive innings from its wicket-keeper Kamran Akmal — to score enough runs to secure a win if its bowlers extracted ten per cent more life from the pitch than England.

Naved strikes

Strauss has not looked happy on this tour. His wife is having their first baby soon, which can account for some nerves and when he was bowled by Rana Naved-ul-Hasan it was hardly a shock. Vaughan was bowled by a sharp yorker from Naved but there was the consolation that Ian Bell has shown considerable heart since he crept into side after Vaughan was hurt.

He is another small man like Akmal who bats above his weight and he was outscoring Marcus Trescothick by the time England were 92.

At this point a soft drinks dispenser blew up causing fears. It was something more sinister.

Security arrived with reassuring speed and the Test was continued less than seven minutes later as if nothing had happened.

Another five minutes and the players went to a drinks break. Trescothick edged a catch to Akmal on 48 but when England reached 113, the umpires made their traditional leisurely walk towards one another and decided, solemnly, that it was too dark to continue.

Good old cricket, not even an explosion disturbs the even tenor of its ways.