Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Strauss Success Stirs Up Ashes Hopes

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Strauss Success Stirs Up Ashes Hopes

Article excerpt


PROUD captain Andrew Strauss and his England team linked arms for a huddle of triumph at Headingley this afternoon after conquering Pakistan by 167 runs.

When Monty Panesar capped another magical performance with the ball by having Inzamam-ul-Haq stumped, the home side had not only won the Third npower Test but also secured their first series success since the glory days of last summer.

England lost in Pakistan after regaining the Ashes, drew in India and drew at home to Sri Lanka earlier this season.

But now they are 2-0 ahead and will go to The Oval for next week's final contest seeking to sharpen their appetite for next winter's rapidly-approaching rematch with Australia by winning again. Not even with Andrew Flintoff and all the other casualties on board could England have produced a more clinical execution today.

Fast bowler Sajid Mahmood just about stole the individual honours, finishing with four for 22 as Pakistan were dismissed in mid-afternoon for 155.

But Panesar, capturing the crucial wicket of Younis Khan shortly after lunch with a cracking delivery which turned and bounced to hit top of off-stump, was not far behind with three for 39.

England's supporters wondered whether the future could be bright while the likes of Simon Jones and senior spinner Ashley Giles were longterm casualties. Well, the answer looks like a resounding 'yes' tonight - and two victories without Flintoff merely adds to the mood of optimism.

As for Pakistan, who have lost their first Test series in England for 24 years, chasing a victory target of 323 always looked next to impossible. But, as usual this summer, they were given no encouragementby the openers - and the middle-order couldn't conjure up a miracle.

Salman Butt tried the positive approach by driving Matthew Hoggard for four boundaries in quick succession this morning.

Remaining patient was vital from England's point of view, however, and Strauss's decision to persevere with his Yorkshire paceman paid a handsome dividend when Hoggard invited Butt to drive again at the start of the 10th over. This time an outside edge flew to first slip and the safe hands of Marcus Trescothick did the rest.

Bingo! But for all England's numbers to come up here today they had to deal with Pakistan's major players.

Younis, who made 173 first time around, and Mohammad Yousuf - even closer to a double-century over the weekend when scoring 192 - found themselves together again this morning once Panesar ended Taufeeq Umar's painful struggles with spin.

Seldom in recent years can a 'proper' batsman from the subcontinent have looked so much at sea against an England slow bowler, and midway through Panesar's second over back in the attack he perished, predictably, by bottom-edging a sweep to silly point via his pad. …

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