Thorpe, White tame Pakistan spin attack

LAHORE, Pakistan, Reuters

Graham Thorpe scored a patient 118 and Craig White 89 not out against Pakistan’s feared spinners on Thursday as England took control of the first test. They reached 393 for six at the end of the second day after Thorpe and White put on 136, an English record for the sixth wicket against Pakistan.

The left-handed Thorpe, on 22 overnight, batted for most of the day, facing 301 deliveries in all during an innings of more than seven hours before he became off-spinner Saqlain Mushtaq’s sixth victim on a slow track at the Gaddafi stadium. Thorpe scored just one four before reaching three figures, the only test player to have scored a century with so few boundaries. All-rounder White, scoring much faster, hit six fours and two sixes for his best score in tests.

Pakistan captain Moin Khan had said before the game that he would target England’s weakness against top-class spin, and Thorpe believed he had made an important point with his seventh test century. “It was probably my best innings for England,” said Thorpe, Saqlain’s team mate at Surrey last season. “We have managed to bat for two days on a (difficult) wicket and against bowlers that people said we could not play against.

“We are up against world-class spinners on their own patch. I had to work for those runs.

“They came slowly but we are now in a good position on amtrack that will get harder to bat on.” Hick removed early England had resumed their first innings on 195 for four after opting to bat on Wednesday. Saqlain removed Graeme Hick lbw for 16 in the morning, on the way to figures of six for 131 from 57 overs. It was the 11th time that the 23-year-old Saqlain, playing in his 29th test, has taken five wickets in an innings. He beat Hick with a flighted delivery and trapped him lbw on the back foot to make it 225 for five.

White’s arrival, however, changed the tempo of the match as he went on the attack, targetting leg spinner Mushtaq Ahmed in particular. The all-rounder produced a series of lofted drives as he hit 22 off his first 20 deliveries. Thorpe said: “It was probably his best test innings as well. Mentally, he was very strong. It was a great partnership.” Pakistan — and Saqlain in particular — will rue a series of missed chances. Thorpe had been dropped off Saqlain’s bowling at slip on Wednesday after making just two, while the off-spinner also missed two caught-and-bowled chances off White as well as a straightforward run-out. White, who had only scored one previous test half-century, refused to be forced on the defensive, greeting the arrival of leg-spinner Shahid Afridi with a straight six while pulling Saqlain over the mid-wicket rope in the final session.