Pakistan Take Tight Lead

On day two, England scored over 500 in the first innings for the third time this summer. At the end of day three, it looked increasingly likely that, just as was the case on the previous two occasions, England would not go on to win the match, as Pakistan batted brilliantly to reach 538,a lead of 23, and England finished on three without loss.

The English bowlers that had been so brilliant at old Trafford had been punished by the Pakistan batsmen that had previously failed ; and Khan and Yousuf built on their overnight partnership of 169, adding another 197, for a record Pakistani parternship against England of 363. It was also an all-time record third wicket partnership against England.

Yousuf brought up his 18th Test match ton with a top-edged hook from Steve Harmison. After the violence and dominance of England’s bowling in the previous Test, Yousuf had set the record straight ; a performance like this against England is, when Yousuf is concerned, a case of back to reality.

Yousuf’s partner, Khan, had been one Pakistan batsman who had actually looked in form at Old Trafford, but here we really did see the best of him. He played beautifully on the offside, and his hundred came off the bowling off Paul Collingwood, easily dispatching a long-hop to the rope to bring up his ton.

Both batsmen looked well set, and it was no surprise to see them survive through the morning session. The great surprise was, indeed, when Yousuf gloved to Chris Read, from Harmison’s bwoling, when he was on 192 and well placed for another double century against England. Khan also seemed set for the double ton, and England were bereft of ideas of how to remove him. Their salvation came in the form of the opposition captain, Inzamam ul-Haq, who, not for the first, nor, in all probability, the last time, ran out a team-mate. Off Collingwood’s bowling, Inzy set off on a silly attempt for a single, and Sajid Mahmood struck with a direct hit that required just one viewing from the third umpire. Things were suddenly looking rosier for England, but the score was at a quite remarklable 447-4.

However, the next ball saw Paul Collingwood take his first test wicket, and you have to say it has been a long time coming! A good delivery from the batting all-rounder saw Faisal Iqbal trapped, it was plumb and England were now looking at the possibility of taking a lead.

Next to depart with Inzamam, in one of the most comical dismissals of recent times. He attempted to sweep Panesar but somehow managed to fall over his stumps. he attempted to hurdle them, but disloged the bails with his belly. The smiles had turned to laughter.

Pakistan went to tea at 451-6, and England’s spirits were boosted somewhat by the removal of the triumvirate of Khan, Yousuf and Inzamam in a relatively short period of time. The damage, though, had been done long before, and it was damage limitation for England after tea, as they desperately tried to maintain a lead.

Sajid Mahmood finally took a wicket in this series, removing Kamran Akmal for twenty. It was a very disappointing shot from Akmal, but a decent ball from Mahmood. A better batsman than Akmal would quite feasibly have flashed at it the same way he did, with the ball veering to off. Trescothick took a routine catch, and the delight in Mahmood’s face was there for all to see.

The next wicket saw 30 more runs added, before Sami tope edged a fuller delivery from Panesar to fine leg, where Harmison took a couple of steps back to take the catch on the boundary comfortably. It was no less than Panesar deserved, he had bowled decently with little reward.

Monty became the catcher next, with the score at 496. Gul hooked Mahmood, but did not connect cleanly, and Panesar got to ground to make a low, and impressive catch, doing his best to dispell any thoughts of him being one-dimensional from Duncan Fletcer’s mind. With Pakistan at 496-9, England must have thoguht they would be going in with a slender lead, but Pakistan’s eleventh wicket put on a show to rival that of Harmison and Mahmood on day two, if not for fireworks but for the unexpected nature of it. Kaneria hit a few fours, and one big six, after Panesar tossed one up. Kaneria was eventually out for 29 after a sharp catchy by Trescothick off Panesar’s bowling, but not before he and Nazir had given Pakistan a lead of 23.

England were left to face the final two overs of the day, and finished three without loss. A result either way is certainly still possible, but my money is on a draw. Strauss must decide tomorrow when the right time to declare is : Akhtar and Asif may well be back for the final test, England will want to wrap the series up here and now; to do so will take courage on Strauss’s part, and a stern test lies ahead for boh sides in the next two days.

England 515
Kevin Pietersen 135, Ian Bell 119
Umar Gul 5-123, Danish Kaneria 2-111

Pakistan 538
Mohammad Yousuf 192, Younis Khan 173
Monty Panesar 3-127, Sajid Mahmood 2-108

England 3-0
Andrew Strauss 3*, Marcus Trescothick 0*

England are behind by 20 runs with 10 second innings wickets in hand.

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