Pakistan determined after warm-up shambles

Published: Monday, July 10, 2006, 23:53 [IST]
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Canterbury:Pakistan coach Bob Woolmer insisted his team's comical draw with England 'A' in their final warm-up match would steel the tourists ahead of the start of Thursday's first Test against England at Lord's.

What might have been an intriguing fourth and final day at Canterbury rapidly descended into a ludicrous contest, not a single wicket falling as both sides employed part-time bowlers for lengthy spells.

"It is not going to affect our preparation, if anything it is going to make us more steely about what we have to do in the Test series," former England batsman Woolmer said on Sunday.

"People here would have seen the same game as I did and if I had been a member of the public I would not have been too pleased with what was going on," the former England batsman added.

"I can understand why England 'A' did it but I don't agree with it," insisted Woolmer who played at Canterbury for Kent during the 1970s and early 1980s.

England 'A' shut down the game by leaving Pakistan, in their second innings, 507 to win at a rate of 11 an over.

The tourists, already unhappy with their hosts' approach, responded by retiring openers Salman Butt (50) and Imran Farhat (44) to give others a chance to bat.

Earlier, part-time spinners Butt and Farhat were the only bowlers used by Pakistan on Sunday.

Their tit-for-tat response to England's tactics was understandable as they tried to keep currently fit pacemen Umar Gul and Abdul Razzaq fresh for Lord's.

In Sunday's rain-affected morning session, when only 10 overs were possible, Pakistan saw fast bowler Mohammad Sami hit on the right knee while fielding at mid-wicket.

They had taken the field without fast bowler Mohammad Asif, who had an injection in his right elbow on Saturday and is not expected to be fit until the eve of the first Test.

And first-choice gloveman Kamran Akmal again did not keep wicket as a precaution after bruising his left index finger last Thursday morning.

Spearhead quick Shoaib Akhtar is currently sidelined with an ankle problem while fellow paceman Rana Naved is struggling with a groin injury.

Uncapped left-arm seamer Samiullah Niazi is being flown over from Pakistan as cover.

All this helped to explain Pakistan's approach in a match where England 'A' captain Robert Key, who let his side's first innings of 595 for nine declared run on until the third morning, refused to enforce the follow-on despite a lead of 353.

Instead the game ended with every member of the A team, bar injured Test pacemen Matthew Hoggard, who'd sustained a hand injury in a freak warm-up accident before play Saturday, having a bowl.

Pakistan captain Inzamam-ul-Haq (20 not out) and fellow senior batsman Mohammad Yousuf (35 not out) were then content to play out time against an 'attack' featuring wicket-keeper Chris Read and opening batsman Key.

Admittedly, the match might have taken a different course had Pakistan, who had England 'A' at 291 for six, been able to polish off the tail.

But on an ideal batting pitch, the final four first innings wickets proved elusive with the last pair of former England keeper Read (150 not out) and Stuart Broad, whose 54 not out was his maiden first-class half-century, putting on an unbroken stand of 127.

"I assume that the England 'A' side wanted to play it 'hard' and keep us in the field as long as they could to tire our bowlers out," said Woolmer, whose team are gearing up for a four-Test series.

"When that became obvious we stopped bowling our main seamers. In that respect it stopped being a game of cricket, which was a shame, but there we are," he added.

England 'A' coach Peter Moores, unsurprisingly, took a different view.

He cited the fact that Butt and Salman bowled all but four overs of the home team's second innings, which finished on 153 for one declared, as the time when the match ceased to be a contest.

"We played really hard cricket for everything but the last hour of the game," he said. "Once they retired two batsmen it was no longer a competitive game, it was a net and we acted accordingly.

"We played the game hard, I would suggest, longer than they did. We set out to score a big score on what was arguably a flat pitch, which is what we did, we then bowled them out and they put themselves in a position of being under the eight ball.

"When we went out again we did so to play proper cricket and bowl with our proper bowlers. You would have to argue that when we had only four overs of seam bowled against us they didn't quite do that, in the spirit of the game."

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