Yousuf brilliance aids Pakistan

Mohammad Yousuf struck a magnificent century on the third day of the Lord’s Test and went on to hit an unbeaten 185 before the close of play, steadying Pakistan after England’s three breakthroughs yesterday evening. Now, just 119 runs behind with three wickets left intact, Pakistan have a chance of getting something out of the match.

Yousuf was supported by Inzamam-ul-Haq and Kamran Akmal, who both made half-centuries, after Mohammad Sami was caught behind early on.

Inzamam formed a 163 run-stand with Yousuf and helped Pakistan avoid the follow-on, their first target. The pair has been at their most successful against England: Yousuf notched up a double-century and Inzamam averaged 107 when the teams last met.

When Inzamam brought up his half-century off 82 balls, it became his eighth successive innings where he had passed fifty. Although Inzamam was helped by numerous leg-side offerings from the English bowlers, his wicket fell when he misjudged a leg stump delivery from Plunkett which kept a little low.

Yousuf continued relentlessly with Abdul Razzaq, and, when he had slid Paul Collingwood’s first ball down to third-man for four, his third century against England had been completed in magnificent style.

Throughout his innings, Yousuf had made England’s bowlers look tame. Various shots through his favourite off-side region and the precision with which they were executed gave the innings some class. Yousuf wasn’t just deft through the off-side, though, he flicked and glanced when the English bowlers strayed down the leg side and got over the top of Steven Harmison’s steep bounce.

The fall of Razzaq came 59 runs later when Harmison extracted extra bounce with the new ball, and this wicket brought in Akmal, Pakistan’s wicketkeeper, who had moderate success with the bat when England toured Pakistan last winter.

Between Inzamam, Yousuf and Akmal, Pakistan had scored 474 runs the last time both teams met, and so it was no surprise when Akmal continued Pakistan’s breathtaking progress: himself and Yousuf forged a 99-run partnership before the former attempted to cut Kevin Pietersen but only succeeded in edging to Geraint Jones who took his third catch of the day.

With Yousuf and the explosive but unreliable Shahid Afridi at the crease as play ended, Pakistan have a chance of overtaking England’s score. To force a result in the game, Harmison must exploit the hard pitch’s bounce early tomorrow and remove at least one of Yousuf and Afridi. Also, with wearing foot-holes outside the right-hander’s leg stump, Monty Panesar will have a chance when England bowl again. However, two innings have not yet been completed going into the fourth day, and a draw is the likely result.

England 528-9 declared
Alistair Cook 105, Paul Collingwood 186, IR Bell 100 not out
Danish Kaneria 3-119

Pakistan 409-7
Inzamam-ul-Haq 69, Mohammad Yousuf 185*
Steven Harmison 3-76, Liam Plunkett 2-78

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