Pakistan in control as Harmison and Trescothick exposed
by AFP

Ground:Kennington Oval, Kennington
Scorecard:England v Pakistan
Player:SI Mahmood, SJ Harmison, MJ Hoggard, Inzamam-ul-Haq, Mohammad Yousuf, Faisal Iqbal, Mohammad Asif
Event:Pakistan in British Isles 2006

DateLine: 19th August 2006


Stephen Harmison and Marcus Trescothick, two of England's senior players, gave their side fresh cause for concern heading into the Ashes defence in Australia later this year as Pakistan remained on top in the fourth and final Test at The Oval here Saturday.


At stumps on the third day England in their second innings were 78 for one, a deficit of 253.


Struggling opening batsman Trescothick had fallen for four after strike bowler Harmison had taken an unimpressive four for 125, which featured only one top order victim in Pakistan captain Inzamam-ul-Haq.


England captain Andrew Strauss was 37 not out and Alastair Cook 33 not out at stumps.


Harmison's largely lacklustre efforts this match have been thrown into sharp relief by the performance of Pakistan fast bowler Mohammad Asif.


In common with fellow pacemen Shoaib Akhtar (ankle) and Rana Naved (knee), the 23-year-old Asif had missed the first three Tests of this series with an elbow problem as England built an unbeatable 2-0 lead.


But having taken four for 56 in England's meagre first innings 173, Asif continued to make up for lost time Saturday.


He struck with his 10th ball when Trescothick was well caught for just four by wicket-keeper Kamran Akmal, diving across Inzamam at first slip to leave England eight for one.


Trescothick's exit meant the Somerset left-hander had scored just 135 runs in the series, averaging a lowly 19.28.


Earlier Pakistan's 504 all out saw them to a commanding first innings lead of 331.


Mohammad Yousuf's 128, his third century of the series, was the centrepiece of a total which also featured scores of 95 and 91 from openers Mohammad Hafeez and Imran Farhat respectively.


Faisal Iqbal weighed in with a series-best 58 not out Saturday as England's pacemen eventually posed some sort of threat in this match after rain had freshened the pitch.


"The skipper has always supported me and encouraged me to do well," said Iqbal.


"I have been learning from my mistakes. I enjoyed the short ball today and getting on the front foot. You have to be courageous and positive."


Harmison, while the Pakistan innings was taking shape, went wicketless for 22 overs while conceding 98 runs.


This added to the impression that the Durham quick was the bowling equivalent of a 'flat-track' bully, unable to take key wickets in less than ideal conditions.


All of England's four main bowlers conceded over 100 runs apiece with Harmison the most expensive.


Pakistan resumed Saturday on 336 for three with Yousuf 115 not out, after twice being dropped in single figures, and Inzamam two not out.


Yousuf's century followed his 202 in the drawn first Test at Lord's and 192 at Headingley.


During the course of his innings Yousuf became the leading run scorer in Test cricket this year, his tally now standing at 1,123 runs.


And the right-hander's current series aggregate of 631 runs was the most by a player for either side in an England-Pakistan Test campaign.


Harmison eventually ended a wicketless spell spanning 281 balls since he dismissed Yousuf just short of a double hundred when Inzamam, on 31, steered a lifting delivery to Strauss at second slip.


Then, six balls later, 379 for four became 381 for five when Yousuf edged Matthew Hoggard to wicket-keeper Chris Read.


In all Yousuf batted for nearly five-and-three-quarter hours, facing 236 balls with 18 fours.


Hoggard though had seen Yousuf dropped off his bowling on five and nine by first slip Trescothick and gully Cook respectively.

(Article: Copyright © 2006 AFP)