Read renews Test bid with hundred against Pakistan
by AFP

Ground:St Lawrence Ground, Canterbury
Scorecard:England A v Pakistanis
Player:Danish Kaneria, AGR Loudon, CMW Read, IR Bell, RWT Key
Event:Pakistan in British Isles 2006

DateLine: 7th July 2006


Former England wicket-keeper Chris Read advanced his case for a Test recall by making an unbeaten century for England A here Friday against a near full-strength Pakistan attack.


At tea, on the second day of this four-day match, England A were 496 for nine in their first innings with Read 108 not out and last man Stuart Broad, unbeaten on 11.


Earlier Pakistan suffered a second injury blow in their final first-class warm-up match before the first Test against England when fast bowler Mohammad Asif left the field with a right elbow injury.


Asif sent down just five overs on Friday, but Pakistan tour manager Zaheer Abbas said he expected the paceman to be available for selection come Thursday's first day at Lord's.


His injury came after Kamran Akmal, the only wicket-keeper in the Pakistan squad, sustained a left index finger injury.


Akmal, off the field for most of the first day's play, did not take the field Friday with stand-in Faisal Iqbal continuing behind the stumps.


Pakistan leg-spinner Danish Kaneria led the attack with four for 130 in a marathon 42 overs on a good batting pitch.


Read, who played the last of his 11 Tests against the West Indies in Barbados over two years ago, was dropped in favour of Geraint Jones on account of the latter's superior batting.


But at his Kent rival's county home ground Read, 27, played an assured innings even when, on 91, he saw last man Stuart Broad come to the crease.


However, the 19-year-old pace bowling son of former England opening batsman Chris, kept his wicket intact.


Then Read's cover-driven boundary off occasional spinner Imran Farhat, his 14th four, took him to a 140-ball hundred which also included a straight six off Kaneria.


His innings was timely with Jones, widely regarded as an inferior keeper to Read, having seen his Test batting average drop to 26.


England are due to name their first Test squad on Sunday and, for all Jones's woes, it would still be a major surprise if he lost his place, given the unswerving support he has had from England coach Duncan Fletcher.


Another player aiming for a Test return was A team captain Robert Key whose seven-hour innings, on his Kent home ground, was eventually ended when the opener was bowled for 136 by Abdul Razzaq.


Key's exit left the hosts on 291 for six but a stand of 102 between Read and off-spinning all-rounder Alex Loudon kept Pakistan at bay.


Loudon made 51 before he top-edged a sweep off Kaneria and gave Salman Butt an easy catch at short fine leg.


England A resumed on 268 for three, with Key 128 not out and Ravi Bopara seven not out.


Pakistan took the prize wicket of Key, who played the last of his 15 Tests against South Africa at Centurion in January 2005, when Razzaq struck with his second delivery Friday to knock over off-stump with a ball that moved away from the right-hander.


Key, dropped on 30 by Akmal on Thursday, faced 269 balls with two sixes and 17 fours and his exit left England A on 291 for six.


But although the 27-year-old Kent captain's innings was unlikely to catapult him into a place in the first Test squad - he is still hampered in his ability to throw after shoulder surgery in the off-season - it had revived his hopes of making the Ashes tour later in the year.


Play was halted at 12pm local time (1100GMT) for Britain's national two minutes silence marking the first anniversary of the London terror bombings, players from both sides lining up on the outfield while spectators stood.

(Article: Copyright © 2006 AFP)


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