Multan will be hosting a Test against England for the second time when the teams embark on the next stage of the series from Friday. Richard Spiller previews
The city, which is 250 miles south of Rawalpindi and enjoys warmer temperatures at this stage of Pakistan’s winter, has staged international matches at two venues. It was at the first of those, the Ibn-e-Qasim Bagh Stadium in December 1980 – the only Test played there – that Sylvester Clarke was involved in an incident with a fan that resulted in three-match ban.
The ban contributed to Clarke – along with the strength of West Indies’ pace resources – playing only 11 Tests and throwing in his lot with the rebel West Indies team which toured South Africa in 1983-84. For both Surrey and in South African domestic cricket he proved a priceless asset over the next decade, although some batsmen may have disagreed.
The Multan Cricket Stadium made its Test debut in 2001, Bangladesh providing the first opposition although they only lasted three days. Leg-spinner Danish Kaneria ran through them by taking 12 wickets to win by an innings and 264 runs. They were back two years later and in a much closer encounter were inched out by one wicket.
If England’s runscorers are seeking encouragement – the bowlers may wish to look away for a moment – they should study the scorecard of India’s visit in 2004. Having won the toss, the visitors had Virender Sehwag’s 309 and Sachin Tendulkar’s 194no to thank for amassing 675-5dec, which was sufficient to earn them victory by an innings and 52 runs.
It was England’s turn next, arriving in November 2005 in the wake of the epic Ashes series which had been completed at The Oval two months earlier. All went swimmingly for the visitors initially, Andrew Flintoff’s 4-68 leading the dismissal of Pakistan for 274 before Marcus Trescothick’s 193 drove England to 418. Yet a Salman Butt century ensured a target of 198 was set and it proved to be enough by 22 runs as Kaneria took 4-62 and Shoaib Ahktar – who had a brief spell at The Oval three years later – wrapped up the match in claiming 3-49.
Since then there has been only one more Test, West Indies involved in a high scoring draw in November 2006 which featured a Brian Lara double-century, so Test cricket’s return to the city after 16 years will end a long draught.
England have named their XI for the Second Test, with Surrey’s Ollie Pope and Will Jacks keeping their place in the side. Play gets underway at 5:00 (GMT) on Friday 9th December.