Pakistan was blown away for an innings and 120 runs defeat at Old Trafford by the destructive pair of Steve Harmison and Monty Panesar. It has been a two men show for England with only these two bowlers getting all the second innings wickets with both picking five each. It was also a ten wicket haul for Steve Harmison, the Man of the Match and Pakistan one must say have been totally disappointing getting bowled out for 222 under 68 overs. Except for Younis Khan, who made a calm 62, not one batsman cared to stay for some time at the crease; of course Inzamam did get out in an unlucky manner. But most of the Pakistani batsmen lacked the application and the determination to occupy the crease against the rising deliveries of Harmison. Monty Panesar has been equally fabulous for picking up 8 wickets in this game. He was mixing the big turning deliveries with the flatter deliveries that were going straight on.
There was a strong feeling that the Test Match would have ended on the third day considering the number of players in the Pakistani camp who play lots of rash shots. The list starts off with Imran Farhat and Shahid Afridi, who doesn’t like to put up a price on his wicket. England were fortunate that Steve Harmison was fit to bowl after yesterday’s injury scare of pulling his rib cage muscle. Harmison wasted absolutely no time in delivering the chin music and his first lamb was Kamran Akmal, who had absolutely no choice but to fend Harmison’s short one to Geraint Jones. A good partnership followed between Imran Farhat and the solid Younis Khan but there was always been an uncertainty in Imran Farhat’s approach in staying long at the crease. He did show some sort of discipline today, but was unfortunate to get a great delivery from Monty Panesar that turned and jumped onto him in his forward stretch and Imran Farhat was forced to nick it to the short leg fielder. Imran Farhat, who was batting with a fractured finger made 34, which was always a moderate score for a specialist batsman. Younis Khan then found an able partner in last match double centurion, Mohammad Yousuf and the two ‘Y’s took Pak safely to lunch at 101 for 2. Younis Khan was batting well on 34 and Yousuf was finding his bearings right on 15.
The first delivery after the lunch break might be a turning point as Mohammad Yousuf lunged forward to block Monty Panesar, but the ball turned and bounced just enough to beat the bat and also drag Yousuf out of his crease. The alert Geraint Jones whipped the bails in a fraction of a second and the third umpire confirmed that Yousuf’s back leg was on the line. Pakistan Skipper, Inzamam-ul-Haq was uncomfortable at the crease against the quick short ones from Harmison, but he wasn’t out to the fast bowler but to Monty Panesar. Inzamam’s defensive shot had hit his boot and then popped up to the silly point fielder and that was a rather unfortunate way of getting dismissed. Faisal Iqbal was another batsman who was having a wrist injury having being smashed there by a Strauss’ sweep shot while fielding at short leg. Faisal Iqbal was applying himself well and was trying to put up a partnership with Younis. But Monty Panesar soon hit the nail in the coffin by removing Younis Khan after the Pakistan Vice-Captain made an error in padding up to Monty’s flatter one in front of the offstump. Younis Khan was out after making a personal score of 62 which had 8 fours and with his dismissal, Pakistan were at 161 for 5. A spell of rain then gave Pakistan a short reprieve and an early tea break was taken with Pakistan at 167 for 5 in 52.1 overs.
Monty Panesar has been troubling the right handers all day by getting quick turn and bounce off the surface and Faisal Iqbal got one such delivery to get back to the pavilion. That delivery from Monty had pitched on middle and then turned away sharply forcing the outside edge to bring an end to Faisal Iqbal’s promising innings of 29 and most importantly, it was a fifer for the English Turbanator. England after that got two easy wickets, both going to Steve Harmison. The first one was Afridi who was too afraid to face Steve Harmison’s hostile bowling and deciding to go for a fluke backfoot shot to give catching practice in the slips. It is not unusual to see atleast one six in Afridi’s innings and he did manage one big blow in his stay of 17 balls which came through a lusty blow off Kevin Pietersen’s lollipop off breaks. One can understand why Afridi decided to retire from Test Cricket few months back, he is not a batsman who would take the pains of facing atleast 100 balls for his side. Steve Harmison was too good for the tail enders and also Abdul Razzaq and Pakistan collapsed without frustrating the English fielders.
Steve Harmison’s figures were 5 for 57 in a little over 18 overs and Monty Panesar worked his way to take as many wickets after bowling 27 overs. Matthew Hoggard and Sajid Mahmood were the other two main bowlers who bowled reasonably okay, but not good enough to pick up a single wicket. Pakistan are expected to make few changes for the next Test Match that begins on the 4th of next month at Headingley and England might retain this same winning combination. Andrew Strauss would be proud of his first test match victory in just his 2nd Test as the Captain, but he needs to keep his boys going with the same kind of spirit that they have shown in this match as Pakistan is an unpredictable side that can rise up right from the bottom.