Pakistan kick started their preparations for a gruelling English summer with an exciting draw in the warm-up fixture against Somerset at Taunton. Needing an improbable 468 runs from 73 overs, the Division One county side rode on the back of an attacking century from former international opener Marcus Trescothick before a late flurry of wickets set the stage for a tight finish.
Beginning the day at 140/4, Azhar Ali made his intentions pretty clear with some bold shots. At the other end, Asad Shafiq was also settling in against a particularly modest bowling unit.
The duo preferred to deal in boundaries rather than rotating the strike with Azhar even going the aerial route on a few occasions. Once he brought up his century, the Pakistanis decided to declare and give themselves 70 odd overs to bowl Somerset out again.
However, Trescothick rolled back the clock and thwarted the visitors by unfurling his trademark drives. He took a liking to Sohail Khan’s slippery pace and carted him all over the park. Meanwhile, comeback man Mohammad Amir could not replicate his heroics from the second day where he had scythed through the opposition top order.
As a result, Yasir Shah was introduced into the equation as early as in the 11th over itself. Vindicating the decision, the leg-spinner struck in his fourth ball by trapping Adam Hose. After an important 98-run partnership for the second wicket, Shah got the breakthrough again with another leg before dismissal. But, Trescothick chugged on and reached his 61st first-class ton.
When it seemed like the match was headed for a rather tame finish, left-arm seamer Rahat Ali scalped twice in consecutive overs including the prized wicket of Trescothick. Amir too finally got into the act with another timely strike as Shah continued to hold down one end.
With only three overs remaining, Somerset lost another to keep the contest alive. Although the lower-order batsmen played out the remaining deliveries to ensure a stalemate, the visitors will be quite satisfied of their overall performance. Aside from Azhar, Younis got to three figures too while Amir and Shah delivered impressive spells.
Pakistan have another three-day practice match against Sussex at Hove from Friday onwards before the first Test begins at Lords on the 14th.
Pakistanis – 359/8 & 236/4 declared (Azhar Ali 101*, Asad Shafiq 69*) drew with Somerset – 128 & 258/8 (Marcus Trescothick 106, Yasir Shah 4-107, Mohammad Amir 1-42)