Pakistan Tour of England: Pakistan Off to a Shaky Start against Kent

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Pakistan Tour of England: Pakistan Off to a Shaky Start against Kent
Pakistan’s tour of England is off to a shaky start, as after narrowly going past an MCC Invitational Eleven in a T20 match that featured superstars from yesteryears like Brian Lara, Sourav Ganguly, Chaminda Vaas and Chris Harris, the Pakistanis were bowled out for 360 runs on the opening day of their First-class match against English county team Kent, at St. Lawrence Ground, Canterbury.
After winning the toss, Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi opted to bat first, but a shaky start underlined that the new look batting order of the Asians is going to be under intense scrutiny throughout the long and hard English summer, where they are set to play no less than six test matches against Australia and England.
The new look opening pair of vice-captain Salman Butt and Umar Amin was separated very early in the piece, when the rookie Umar Amin was dismissed lbw by Matt Coles (he made 2 off 7 balls).
Fawad Alam and Salman Butt added 43 runs for the second wicket before Fawad met a similar fate to that of Umar Amin, falling for 20 runs off 31 balls.
Soon after, Salman Butt became the third left-hander to fall lbw; this time the successful bowler was former Pakistan all-rounder and captain of the Kent outfit, Azhar Mahmood.
Shoaib Malik, returning to the longer format of the game after missing out on the domestic cricket season due to his ban, added 59 runs with Umar Akmal for the fourth wicket before he was sent packing after making 27 runs with five hits to the fence. His delivery was caught by Blake from the bowling of Mark Lawson.
The Akmal brothers then added 68 runs in their fifth wicket stand. At this juncture, wicket-keeper Kamran perished after making 28 runs, becoming the fourth Pakistani front line batsman to fall in the twenties.
Umar Akmal further enhanced his growing reputation with a magnificent batting display, as the senior men perished around him one by one.
Skipper Shahid Afridi’s return to first class cricket after a long hiatus was less than inspiring, as Boom Boom fell to a six ball track to the jubilation of the home team, that were sensing the kill with the tourists reeling at 180 for 6.
At this juncture, Umar Akmal found an able partner in left arm spinner Abdur Rehman, and the two stuck together for a hundred run plus stand to bring Pakistan back in the game.
Akmal completed his 100 off 150 balls. By then, he had sent the ball to the fence 15 times, besides hitting one maximum.
Rehman’s resistance was eventually broken by James Goodman after he had reached 30 runs.
Umar Akmal perished soon after, after making a brilliant 153 that eventually included 17 fours and five sixes. The diminutive right hander, who packs a punch with his attacking shots, went after debutant Lawson, spanking him for four of his five sixes.
However, the youngster bounced back, getting him stumped off his bowling with the total reading 313.
Fast bowler Umar Gul, who was returning to Pakistani ranks after missing out on the T20 World Championship and the Asia cup due to a shoulder injury, enjoyed his stint with the bat, scoring a rapid-fire 30 with two fours and two sixes.
Pakistan folded for 360 runs in the 87th over of the day, giving the Kent openers the tricky task of negotiating one over, which they did without losing any wicket.
Although the tourists recovered from a shaky start, they would still be concerned with the form shown by their top and middle order.
They know that if they are to compete with two formidable line-ups in the test format during a gruelling summer, their batsmen would have to produce something special.



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