England set Pakistan 275-run chase in Durham

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England set Pakistan 275-run chase in Durham
Pakistan have been set a formidable chase of 275 runs in 41-overs in the first of their five ODIs against England this month.
A wet outfield delayed the start of play until 12.30pm, and shaved 18 overs off the match, but when the match finally got underway in, with Shoaib Akhtar opening proceedings by bowling a wide.
Despite that inauspicious start, Akhtar looked the most dangerous of Pakistan’s bowlers early in the piece, just beating the outside edge of the bat on more occasions than he’d care to count without reward for his efforts.
Unfortunately for the 35-year-old quick, he was sorely lacking in support in a depleted Pakistan pace attack that is without suspended duo Mohammad Amir and Mohammad Asif for the series.
The 7ft 1in Mohammad Irfan was handed the ball as Akhtar’s opening partner, but was hit out of the attack after just his first over, as Andrew Strauss feasted on a trio of fours and went for 15 runs in his maiden over of ODI cricket.
Umar Gul, while less expensive than the debutant, was still unable to stem the flow of runs from his end, while Mohammad Hafeez lasted just one over (during which he conceded seven runs) before again sought to change up the attack.
By the time Akhtar finished his five-over spell, he’d conceded just nine runs but had not been able to dislodge either opener from the crease.
Strauss especially looked to be enjoying his time in the middle, sending first Gul and then spinner Saeed Ajmal over the boundary for six, but the England skipper finally came undone on 41 as he wound up for another lusty blow against Ajmal, but missed by a country mile as the ball crashed into his stumps to finally deliver the breakthrough for Pakistan.
Steve Davies, though, playing in just the second ODI of his career, brought up his maiden half-century in the format with a boundary, reaching the milestone off just 37 balls. The wicketkeeper-batsman finally fell on 87 (from 67 balls) when he became Ajmal’s second victim of the day after his top edge was caught by Kamran Akmal behind the stumps.
Eventually given a chance to redeem himself after that expensive first over, Irfan was on his way to doing so with a tighter second spell when the big man was brought to the ground, and then forced off the field, with what initially appeared to be cramp.
The next over, England called for the Powerplay, and Paul Collingwood (14 from 15) signalled his intentions with a four and a booming six in the first over of it, but just as the Durham batsman – in need of some runs after a lean summer against Pakistan – looked as though he was ready to break the Powerplay open at his home ground, he found the fielder in the deep with a slog-sweep to add another wicket to Ajmal’s tally for the match.
Eoin Morgan made a similarly positive start to his innings, but just 13 runs into it, the Ireland-born player tickled an Afridi delivery into Akmal’s gloves to bring his time in the middle to an end.
Morgan may not have produced one of the match-winning performances to which England fans are fast becoming accustomed, but another of their most consistent performers of the summer again delivered, with Jonathan Trott working his way to a half century after guiding his side through the middle overs of the innings.
The No. 3 batsman finished with a score of 69, bowled by Ajmal in the penultimate over. The visitors then snared a consolation wicket when Tim Bresnan was run out for a duck two balls later, but the damage had long ago been done.
For Pakistan, Akhtar ended the innings with figures of 0-28 and can count himself unlucky that he wasn’t among the wickets, while Ajmal recorded figures of 4-58.
England ultimately finished with a score of 274-6 (with Ravi Bopara unbeaten on 35), impressive enough in 50 overs, but with only 41 overs per innings in this match, it’s a score that should have put victory well out of reach of Pakistan today.



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