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Joseph returns from injury as Mahmood captains Kent v Pakistan

Saturday 26th June 2010

Kent v Pakistan
Tour Match
Monday, 28 June – Wednesday, 30 June
Scheduled start: 10.30am each morning
St Lawrence Ground, Canterbury

Pakistan roll into Canterbury this week for what promises to be a highly entertaining tour match against Rob Key’s Kent, as t20 cricket takes a back seat for a few days.

The enigmatic nation are in England to face Australia in two Twenty20 matches and two Test matches before moving on to the challenge of the Three Lions as the two countries battle it out over four Test matches, two t20 matches before ending the tour with a five-match ODI series against Andrew Strauss’s side.

Led, by former Kent overseas player Shahid Afridi, Pakistan look set to light up the summer, starting with this St Lawrence tour match.

Pakistan are one of the most talented side’s in the world but erratic form, battles with the PCB (Pakistani Cricket Board) and top-name players getting banned means there is never a dull moment; one thing that is certainly not in doubt is the wealth of talent they have at their disposal.

With the bat, Afridi is the main master-blaster (a recent 60-ball 124 against Bangladesh proves that) while former-captain Shoaib Malik and Salman Butt contribute heavy runs. With the ball, a dynamic pace attack including chief reverse-swinger Umar Gul and young speed merchant Mohammad Aamer is complimented but the spinning trio of Afridi, Danish Kaneria and Saeed Ajmal.

Pakistan are a dangerous side and, on their day, can beat anyone so expect an enthralling three days cricket at the St Lawrence Ground as Kent will be looking to complete only their second-ever victory over their international opponents.

Since their first tour of England in 1954, there have been just nine matches played between Kent and Pakistan. Three have been won by the visitors with Kent“s sole success coming in 1987. All the remaining matches were drawn including the only one played away from Canterbury, at Gravesend in 1971, which was restricted to a single innings each due to the pitch having been under water the day before. In addition to the nine first-class matches, the St Lawrence Ground witnessed a 50 over Challenge match between the Gillette Cup holders and the Tourists in 1967 which Kent won by 73 runs.

In the first match, played in August 1954 (a traditional end of season encounter with touring sides) Pakistan overwhelmed the County with a nine wicket victory. Although Kent restricted a strong batting side to within 21 runs of their 193, the hosts were dismissed for just 137 in their second innings, leaving the visitors needing just 117 for victory which they achieved with ease. In Pakistan“s first innings, former Kent coach Colin Page and Australian Jack Pettiford shared eight wickets.

It was a further eight years before Pakistan were back when, in a high scoring match, Saeed Ahmed (128) shared a fourth wicket stand of 198 with Wallis Matthias for the visitors in their first innings total of 380-7dec. For Kent, Bob Wilson“s 83 and Alan Dixon“s 64 saw Kent to a challenging declaration of 265-7. A further declaration on 239-3 (Ijaz Butt 129*) came too late for Kent to mount a serious challenge and the game petered out to a draw.

Kent supporters witnessed for the first time in the three-day match of 1967 the appearance in the touring side of Asif Iqbal who, from 1968-1982, was to play a major role in the county“s years of success. He scored a dashing 41 in Pakistan“s first innings but was dismissed without scoring in their second innings. He had an undistinguished bowling performance conceding 85 runs in his 25 overs without taking a wicket. In reply to Pakistan“s 293 (Derek Underwood 7-78 from 44.4 overs) Kent“s only innings of 392-6 declared included an undefeated century from Colin Cowdrey and 73 each from Stuart Leary and John Shepherd.

The early July match in 1974 was easily won by the visitors who romped home to a nine wicket victory despite Colin Cowdrey (105) recording his third hundred of the season. For the visitors, opener Sadiq Mohammad also achieved a three figure score but a dismal second innings performance, by the hosts, left Pakistan needing only 132 for victory which they achieved for the loss of just one wicket. Both sides suffered almost identical collapses in their first innings, Kent losing their last eight wickets for only 47 runs and the tourists their last eight for 51.

Three sunny days in late May 1978 provided the visitors an ideal opportunity for their batsmen in the final fixture before the first Test Match. They took it with both hands; three batsmen scoring half-centuries and another hundred from Sadiq who hit 20 boundaries in his 161. Kent responded to the tourists declaration on 420-7 with Chris Tavare and Alan Ealham both scoring 90s and Charles Rowe, in his new role as opener, an encouraging 85. On the final day Pakistan opted for further batting practice following Kent“s declaration on 342-7.

Nine years later, in early May and in the seventh match between the sides, Kent achieved their sole victory with an outstanding all-round performance. Alan Igglesden, Eldine Baptiste, Chris Cowdrey and Chris Penn shared the wickets in Pakistan“s first innings 175. The visitors could manage only 171 second time around with Igglesden taking a further five, giving him a match return of 8-98. An impressive all-round performance by the home batsmen, four of whom scored half centuries in a total of 403-8 declared secured Kent victory by an innings and 57 runs. The game marked a Kent debut for team director Paul Farbrace.

There was prize money of £7,500 up for grabs if Kent were able to defeat the tourists in 1996 and, despite a dismal run in the county championship and one day competitions, for a good deal of the match they looked as if they could claim it. After scoring 262 in their first innings (half-centuries by David Fulton, Trevor Ward and Alan Ealham) they dismissed the visitors for 194. But they failed to capitalise on their first innings lead, being dismissed for just 200 in their second innings. A second wicket partnership of 186 (Ijaz Ahmed 136*) ensured an easy victory for the visitors.

The final encounter, in 2001, saw the only double hundred so far in these matches with Saeed Anwar dominating the Pakistan innings of 307-1 declared with a scintillating display of batting in his 201, the declaration coming when he reached that milestone. This was in reply to Kent“s 313-5dec., which included a third wicket partnership of 207 between Rob Key (119) and Matthew Walker (98). What promised to be an exciting finish was ruined by rain, which ruled out any prospect of play on the final day.

Coming off the back of a gruelling t20 schedule, Kent have decided to rest a number of players including skipper Rob Key, vice captain Martin van Jaarsveld and wicketkeeper Geraint Jones.

Fast-bowlers Rob Joseph (pictured) and Dewald Nel make their return from injury, Paul Dixey deputises behind the stumps and Azhar Mahmood captains Kent against his country of birth. Leg-spinner Mark Lawson, who worked with team director Paul Farbrace at England under 19 level, also gets an opportunity to impress.

Kent: Mahmood (C), Denly, Northeast, Blake, Hockley, Goodman, Dixey (W), Coles, Lawson, Joseph, Nel, Shaw, Piesley.

Tickets are now only available on the gate. The price is £20 for adults and £5 for juniors. Play is scheduled to begin at 10.30am on each morning.

Picture:Sarah Ansell