Vol. 5 Num 557 Tue. December 20, 2005  

Pakistan clinch series

Inzamamul Haq hit a defiant unbeaten half-century and Shahid Afridi took three wickets as Pakistan outlasted England by 13 runs on Monday to take an unassailable 3-1 lead in the five-match series.

The swashbuckling right-hander hit seven fours and a six in a fighting 81 to help Pakistan score 210 and then survived a late revival by England tail-enders before finally wrapping their innings at 197.

Pakistan won the second match in Lahore by seven wickets and the third by 165 runs in Karachi, while England won the opening game in Lahore by 42 runs. The fifth and final match will be played at Rawalpindi on Wednesday.

Pakistan registered their hattrick of one-day series wins after beating India 4-2 and the West Indies 3-0 early this year.

England, who won the Ashes against Australia in September this year, again faced a showdown as their best batsmen failed to chase a modest total on a slow paced pitch.

The tourists lost wickets at regular intervals and only all-rounder Andrew Flintoff (40) topscored for them in an otherwise disappointing display of batting.

Navedul Hasan removed opener Matthew Prior (six) and Andrew Strauss (nought) off successive deliveries in his third over to dismiss any hopes of England levelling the series.

Fellow paceman Shoaib Akhtar then bowled Vikram Solanki (six) before super-sub Arshad Khan dismissed Marcus Trescothick (23) in the same manner to leave England struggling at 70-4.

Paul Collingwood too failed, as he hit Mohammad Sami straight to Shoaib Malik at point after scoring just six.

Flintoff hit four boundaries and a six in an attempt to release the pressure, but leg-spinner Shahid Afridi spun one across his bat and had him leg-before, and then accounted for Geraint Jones (12) three overs later.

Ian Blackwell (29) and Kabir Ali with a career best 39 not out initiated a rearguard action with a ninth wicket 50-run partnership and then 33 were added for the last wicket before Pakistan wrapped up the match.

Pakistan owed it to skipper Inzamam who added 60 for the fifth wicket with Shoaib Malik (23) and 56 for the sixth with Afridi who made 33-ball 34 to help Pakistan recover from a precarious 58-4.

Inzamam, who won the toss and decided to bat, showed defiance and aggression during his 113-ball knock, hitting seven fours and a six, after coming to the crease with Pakistan reeling at 34-3.

Pakistan had crawled to 34 without loss by the 11th over, but then lost three wickets in the space of seven deliveries without adding any runs.

Salman Butt (15) failed to beat Vikram Solanki's throw from covers at the striker's end after being called for a quick single by fellow opener Kamran Akmal.

Younis Khan edged Andrew Flintoff's next ball onto his stumps, while James Anderson bowled Akmal in the next over with a sharp incoming delivery.

Akmal, who hit successive hundreds in Pakistan's seven wicket and 165-run wins in the second and third matches respectively, managed 18.

Paceman Ali, who replaced unfit Steve Harmison in the match, then grabbed the prized scalp of Mohammad Yousuf (11) to leave Pakistan struggling at 58-4.

Malik fell to a full toss catch off Blackwell, while Afridi hit two sixes before he became one of Liam Plunkett's two successive wickets.

Naved hit a six and two boundaries before England took the last three wickets for two runs to dismiss Pakistan in 47.2 overs.