AFP/Taunton, United Kingdom
Former England batsman Marcus Trescothick rolled back the years as he defied Pakistan with fighting century (106) for Somerset at Taunton yesterday.
Somerset, set an unlikely 468 for victory, survived some anxious moments before ending at 258 for 8 in their second innings to force a draw.
It was Trescothick’s 47th first-class hundred for Somerset—the same number as West Indies great Vivian Richards managed for the south-west county. The left-handed opener put on 98 with Tim Rouse, who made a gutsy 41 on his Somerset first-class debut after being hit on the head by a Mohamed Amir bouncer.
Somerset had collapsed to 128 in their first innings, with left-arm paceman Amir taking an impressive three for 36. However, a sunny day at Taunton meant there was now less swing in the air for Pakistan’s pacemen.
The 40-year-old Trescothick was caught behind off Amir for just eight in the first innings.
However, he drove both Amir and Sohail Khan down the ground yesterday with some pleasant strokes.
But Adam Hose was out off what became the last ball before lunch when he was lbw to leg-spinner Yasir Shah for eight after he missed a ball that went straight on.
Rouse had made 14 when he ducked into a sharp Amir short ball, turning his head away in the process, and was struck on the helmet.
A concerned Amir raised his hand in apology and Rouse, who changed helmets, needed at least five minutes of on-field treatment before resuming his innings. But soon afterwards he gamely cover-drove Amir for four.
Trescothick drove Shah for six over long-on and then struck two boundaries in as many balls off Khan.
But Rouse fell in similar fashion to Hose when he was lbw to Shah’s quicker ball.
Earlier, Azhar Ali made an unbeaten century in Pakistan’s second innings of 236 for four declared. Ali (101 not out) and Asad Shafiq (69 not out) shared a stand of 138 in 30 overs.
Pakistan resumed yesterday’s third and final day on 140 for four, with Ali 50 not out and Shafiq unbeaten on 26. The pair were especially severe on Somerset’s spinners with the 31-year-old Ali hoisting teenager Dom Bess for two huge sixes over long-on in successive balls.
As soon as Ali had gone to his century, in 168 balls including 12 fours and two sixes, Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq declared.
Amir took three wickets in 11 overs in Somerset’s meagre first innings as he swung the ball late at sharp pace.
This game is about gaining the maximum amount of practice rather than the result.
The only cloud on Pakistan’s horizon concerns the form of their captain. After his second-ball duck in the first innings, Misbah-ul-Haq fell for 19 in the second innings and dropped a tough chance off Hildreth in the slips. It is too early to read much into such issues, but Misbah is asking a great deal of himself to negate a skilful England bowling attack on their own surfaces at the age of 42.
Such is the trepidation in the Pakistan camp about what this tour may bring, they have hired a PR consultant from the world of politics to accompany them and largely protect Amir from the media.
But, even if there are those who begrudge Amir his chance to make amends—those who, presumably, have never made a mistake in their lives—there will surely be very few true cricket lovers who can remain hard-hearted in the face of such precious skills. Bowlers so gifted appear rarely; Test cricket can only be enhanced by his return.
Pakistan 359-8 decl. (Younis Khan 104, Asad Shafiq 80, Shan Masood 62; P van Meekeren 3/78) and 236-4 decl. (Azhar Ali 101 not out, Asad Shafiq 69 not out); Somerset 128 (Sohail Khan 3-26, Amir 3-36) and 258-8 (M Trescothick 106; Yasir Shah 4-107)
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