The two Y’s of the Pakistan team – Younis Khan and Mohammad Yousuf took their side to a solid 202 for 2 at stumps on Day 2 of the Headingley Test. Mohammad Yousuf has been the dominant partner in the unbeaten 166-run stand for the third wicket and he remains undefeated on 91. The Pakistani team Vice-Captain, Younis Khan is still there with him on 64. The tourists were under lot of stress after seeing England finish their first innings at a massive 515. Things went well for England to begin with as they removed the two new Pakistani openers early, but they were left to witness plundering shots and solid defensive play in the rest of the day from the blades of Younis and Yousuf. England looked like a bowler short on this track, but they still have enough fire power to come out recharged and attack Pakistan on the third day’s play.
The second day’s play began with Kevin Pietersen resuming his innings of 104 after having to retire hurt due to cramps in his fore arms on the first day. He and Bell had to battle through the seaming conditions and once there wasn’t much of a threat in the bowling, the shots came out at will, in particular from Kevin Pietersen. Ian Bell got to his third consecutive hundred before the drinks break and this century of his came in 172 balls with the help of 11 fours. After drinks, Pakistan were lucky to see the end of Pietersen, which had come through a miscued lofted shot off Sami to mid off. Pietersen added 31 runs to his overnight score and his innings of 135 took just 169 deliveries with 20 fours and two sixes. After another 7 overs, Danish Kaneria finally looked upto the heavens as he got his first wicket of the match, that of Ian Bell, who was bowled trying to play a late cut shot. Bell was dismissed with England at 445 for 8 and his score at 119. Steve Harmison came out and produced some fireworks which included two sixes coming through pull shots in Shahid Nazir’s bowling. Sajid Mahmood at the other end surprised everyone with some good looking strokes all along the ground and England went to lunch at 488 for 8.
Pakistan cleaned up Harmison and Sajid Mahmood soon after the lunch break with Kaneria and Umar Gul taking those wickets to end England’s innings at 515 all out in 123 overs. Umar Gul with a yorker that bowled Sajid Mahmood for 34 got his second five-wicket haul of his career. Danish Kaneria toiled hard for 34 overs to take just the two wickets and Sami got two as well, but was very expensive going for more than 5.00 runs per over in his 26 overs. It was a new opening combination from Pakistan in Taufeeq Umar and Salman Butt and both showed the patience that is required for an opening batsman. Both left handers left the slanting deliveries across their offstump on their own and it looked like England had to produce some brilliant deliveries to get the breakthroughs. But that wasn’t required with Taufeeq Umar losing his concentration in the 13th over to go after a wide outswinger from Hoggard to nick it behind. Chris Read took a beautiful diving catch in front of the first slip and Taufeeq was gone for just 7 in his comeback game. Salman Butt soon followed his partner back in the pavilion after he was a victim of a poor call for a single from Younis Khan. The Pakistan Vice-Captain had pushed Harmison straight to Pietersen at covers and called his partner for a non existent single and poor Salman Butt couldn’t make it in time at the striker’s end. Salman Butt got out for a promising 20 and it was a brilliant direct throw from Pietersen that got the wicket.
After the fall of those two wickets, it was all Younis Khan and Mohammad Yousuf from then onwards and the two batsmen matched shot to shot. Monty Panesar was bringing all the subtle changes in pace and flight and he was the only man to keep the two batsmen under a check. Sajid Mahmood bowled briskly, sometimes even at 90mph and got some steep bounce, but he often released the pressure by bowling short and wide or bowling full deliveries onto the pads. The pair of Younis and Yousuf has been there for more than 40 overs and their partnership is already a big one and Pakistan team would hope that it would continue for sometime in the morning session of tomorrow’s play. Both the right handers have hit 10 fours each and Yousuf also has a six in his innings, which had come from a lofted on drive off Pietersen. Monty Panesar looked like the best bowler for England, bringing in the subtle changes in his flight and pace; he is yet to pick up a wicket though having bowled 14 overs. Pakistan look good at stumps as they still have three specialist batsmen to follow in Skipper Inzamam, Faisal Iqbal and Kamran Akmal. The first hour of play in the morning would be crucial as the English bowlers can come out fresh and try to exploit the possible overcast conditions. England have to bowl with an old ball that is reverse swinging, but its bowlers haven’t made optimum use of it. If they cannot get the wickets quickly, then they will have to wait for the 2nd new ball which is a long way from now and by then Pakistan would have made decent progress.