STEVEN Finn pressed his claims for a possible Test place as England gave opportunities to all in their second warm-up match, and then dominated with the ball against Pakistan A.
Finn’s share was four wickets for 16 runs in the hosts’ 192, for the loss in the end of 12 wickets, after an agreement that – come what may – both teams would bat a full day in turn.
After two wickets with the new ball from Finn, and two more in his first over after lunch, England were threatening 20 in the day. But Adnan Akmal (74 not out) engineered a recovery from 73 for six alongside Umar Amin to give the scorecard some more competitive if largely irrelevant numbers in a ‘contest’ devoted entirely to England’s preparation for next week’s first Test.
Their management team have been at pains to insist all 16 squad members would have an opportunity to push for inclusion in the three-match series against Pakistan.
True to their word, they came up with a contingency here which found room for Finn and Liam Plunkett to lead the attack – and on day two Alex Hales to open with Moeen Ali.
Finn responded with figures of 15-7-16-4, to put himself in the mix to rival Mark Wood as prospective third seamer in Abu Dhabi.
On a livelier pitch than the one used four strips away earlier in the week, Finn made the early breakthroughs.
Khurram Manzoor edged a good delivery behind, pushing forward at a little extra bounce; then Ali Asad’s attempt to drive resulted only in a catch at second slip for Ian Bell.
Moeen got first run among the spinners and soon served up a wicket when Fawad Alam, an inclusion in Pakistan’s Test squad and with a 50 under his belt from the first match here, edged to slip to go – like Asad – for a duck.
It was a deserved success for Moeen, with one that turned enough from round the wicket to find the forward-defensive edge.
Ben Stokes might have joined him in the final column with a short ball which lifted to hit Iftikhar Ahmed’s glove – but Jonny Bairstow, keeping wicket for the first 50 overs in place of Jos Buttler, could not cling on to a diving chance low to his right.
Iftikhar was therefore reprieved on one, having twice been dropped by England too on Tuesday – when he made an unbeaten 92.
But it was not costly this time, because he became a gimme wicket for Finn straight after lunch – lbw aiming to clip his first delivery of the session to leg.
Finn doubled up two balls later, consigning Usman Salahuddin to the third duck of the innings when he edged low to third slip.
Adil Rashid, as two days ago, was liable to bowl a four ball each over – but he made chances too, eventually claiming three wickets.
He took out opener Sami Aslam seven short of his 50, finding the left-hander’s outside-edge to slip from round the wicket.
No 8 Akmal responded with a counter-attacking 79-ball 50 in a seventh-wicket stand of 83, until Samit Patel had Amin edging an attempted cut behind.
By the time Manzoor and then Ali returned for short-lived second attempts, such details had become superfluous – save to note that the latter recorded a collector’s item second duck in the same ‘innings’ when he was bowled on the back foot by Plunkett.