Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Hoggard Points the Way to Set Up a Day of Drama

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Hoggard Points the Way to Set Up a Day of Drama

Article excerpt


MATTHEW HOGGARD struck gold early at Headingley today as England went for glory in the Third npower Test. Hoggard, operating on his home turf, was panned for four boundaries in quick succession by Salman Butt to give Pakistan a positive start in their quest to score 323 runs to not only claim a famous victory but also level this four-match series.

But England's persevering Yorkshireman had his revenge soon enough when Butt edged him into the slip cordon to give England their first success after 35 minutes' play with the total 23.

And half an hour or so later, the home side were celebrating again. Spinner Monty Panesar, replacing Hoggard, had surviving opener Taufeeq Umar in all sorts of trouble and it came as no surprise when the batsman bottomedged an attempted sweep onto his pad and into the hands of Alastair Cook at silly point with the total 52.

Starting well has been beyond Pakistan all series, their first two wickets having fallen for fewer than 50 runs on four out of five occasions before this innings.

Today, they might have been one down without even a single on the board.

Umar got himself into a tangle midway through the first over - bowled by Panesar so that England's fast men could change ends - and was fortunate that an inside edge onto pad flew safely forward of short leg.

Despite that bit of encouragement for the slow bowler, Steve Harmison and Hoggard were quickly put in partnership. Neither man has bowled consistently well in this match, but it wasn't too late for them to put that right.

Captain Andrew Strauss said: "It's important our guys get the ball in the right areas often enough and if they do we definitely think there are 10 wickets for us out there."

There were still plenty of runs in the pitch as well, judging by the way Butt picked up eight of them when driving consecutive deliveries from Hoggard past mid-off.

Those blows brought roars of approval from Pakistan's supporters among a steadily growing crowd - and they had good reason to cheer again a couple of overs later with Butt producing two more cracking drives, off front foot and then back, as Hoggard struggled to follow his captain's orders.

Remaining both patient and positive was vital from England's point of view, however, and Strauss's decision to persevere with Hoggard paid a handsome dividend when the Yorkshireman invited Butt to drive for a fifth time at the start of the 10th over.

On this occasion the lefthander did not quite get to the pitch of the ball and an outside edge f lew to first slip.

Marcus Trescothick did the rest.

Most of the statistics offered England encouragement with only Australia, in 1948, having successfully chased a taller fourth innings target to win a Test at Headingley.

But, worldwide, teams are hunting down big totals with increasing confidence - as confirmed earlier today in Colombo where Sri Lanka scored 352 for nine to claim a thrilling one-wicket victory over South Africa. …

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