England Blind V Pakistan Blind, Pakistan in England Series, Match One (abandoned), 27th May 2006 at the Royal Grammar School, Worcester

Report by Steve Field

The first match of this eagerly-awaited series started in steady rain as players and officials of both sides agreed that as much cricket as possible should be played.

The opening ceremony took place inside the main pavilion but the pitch was considered to be unfit for play. The match eventually got under way on a minor pitch after England inserted the visitors.

The innings got off to a sensational start as Fayaz hit wildly across the line to Townley’s first ball of the second over. The wretched conditions frustrated the Pakistani batsmen. Few boundaries were forthcoming as the England bowlers took the pace off the ball. Several lofted shots almost went to hand and some excellent returns from the outfield prompted some uncertain running between the wickets. A sharp piece of fielding by Swanepoel at mid off ran out Ishfaq’s runner as he was backing up. A stunning return from the boundary by Rory Field after a tumbling stop by Swanepoel ran out danger-man Bhatti.

Townley and Andy Powers bowled their overs straight through with Power’s first international spell bringing impressive figures of 2 for 44 including a spell of 2-9 in 10 balls.

At 111 for 3, umpire Matt Hirons was doing a reasonable impression of another international umpire by seemingly unco-ordinated leg movements. It did the trick for England as Waqas was well held by Sam Murray. It turned out that Hirons was trying to get the feeling back in his legs in the deteriorating conditions.

The innings was held together by Bhatti and Ahmed with a stand of 56 in 32 minutes. Ahmed played fluently reaching 52 in 39 deliveries with six of the Pakistani’s seven boundaries hitting powerfully through midwicket and mid on.

However after 21 overs the umpires considered the conditions to be unsuitable for batting as the crease was reduced to a muddy patch. Returning from an early lunch the umpires abandoned play.

The second match is scheduled for tomorrow at Redditch Cricket Club with the weather showing signs of improvement. An extra match is to arranged for the rest day on Monday.

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