Openers, Yousuf excel as Pakistan take charge at The Oval
Mohammad Yousuf continued his run feast against England to shepherd Pakistan to a match-winning position with an unbeaten ton on the second day of the fourth Test here at The Oval on Friday.
Following his big knocks of 202 and 192, Yousuf hit an elegant 115 as Pakistan added 240 more runs to their overnight total of 96-1 for the loss of just two more wickets. Their 336-3 when play was stopped due to bad light, took Pakistan 163 runs ahead of England and, weather permitting, in striking distance of winning their first Test in a series that they have already lost.
It was Yousuf’s sixth century against England and third in this series, a performance that could earn him the man-of-the-series award. While Yousuf managed to add 115 more to his series tally of 503, openers Imran Farhat and Mohammad Hafeez fell in the nervous nineties.
Imran, needing a big one to retain his place for the one-dayers, paid the price for his casual approach when he went for 91. Hafeez, called from Pakistan after a disappointing run from the team’s openers, delivered in his first outing in the series but could not get to what would have been a memorable hundred. He fell to Hoggard at 95 but after adding 177 runs for the third wicket with Yousuf.
The Pakistani batsmen continued from where their bowlers left and just toyed with the English attack all day.
England captain Andrew Strauss tried six bowlers including Paul Collingwood and Kevin Pietersen but with little success. Matthew Hoggard with 2-74 was the most successful bowler as England’s heroes of Old Trafford and Headingley, Steve Harmison (0-78) and Monty Panesar (0-60), were treated with complete disrespect.
Earlier, overnight rains in London forced a delayed start with Pakistan resuming at 96-1. Imran began confidently at 56 while Yousuf, after looking edgy the other evening, seemed in good nick. The closest England came to getting an early breakthrough was when Matthew Hoggard found himself in a perfect position to run out Imran at 61. But his attempt at the stumps from close range went too wide.
Looking to leave his previous failures in the series behind, Imran raced towards the sort of total he needs to gain some confidence ahead of the one-day series. He warmed up with a series of boundaries off the wayward Sajid Mahmood that came through exquisite, perfectly placed cover drives.
He thrashed Mahmood out of the attack and Andrew Strauss looked towards his leggie Monty Panesar for help in the ninth over of the day. Imran greeted him by coming down the wicket and hitting him for a superb six over mid on. With Imran on fire and Yousuf picking up the ones and twos, Pakistan embarked on the journey to build up a lead big enough for them not to bat again in this Test.
Their first blow of the day came when Imran, failing to curb his habit of flashing his bat outside the off stump, gave a regulation catch to Marcus Trescothick in the first slip. His electric knock of 91 came in 152 minutes, off 112 balls and included 13 fours and a six.
Yousuf, dropped on five by Trecothick and nine by Alastair Cook both off Hoggard the other evening, was set to make England pay for the lapses. Together with Hafeez, who returned to resume his innings at 8 after retiring hurt on Thursday, Yousuf began a frustrating period for the England bowlers and fielders.
Hafeez, playing his fourth Test and his first since 2003, batted himself in and came out with a series of boundaries including three in an over from Hoggard. Pakistan soon surpassed England’s first innings total of 173 and were 17 runs ahead of their opponents at lunch. The tourists got 94 runs in 22 overs in the first session at a rate of 4.27.
Yousuf did not waste time in completing his fifty off 93 balls when play resumed. Also getting more and more confident, Hafeez reached that landmark off 109 balls with seven fours and a six. Their hundred-run partnership came off 176 balls when Pakistan reached 248-2. Just when Pakistan looked increasingly dangerous, interfered the weather and the umpires called for an early tea with the visitors at 257-2.
Action resumed after a delay of almost 75 minutes and Yousuf and Hafeez were back in business. Hoggard’s poor luck continued when Panesar dropped Hafeez on 79. The English fielders continued chasing leather as Yousuf drove the ball in all parts of the park and Hafeez showing his batting prowess with a series of boundaries.
Yousuf completed his 19th Test century with a perfectly placed boundary off Paul Collingwood. It took him 174 balls to complete it with the help of 14 glorious fours. Hafeez, however, was unable to get to his second Test hundred, falling just five runs short because of a lapse in concentration. He became Hoggard’s second victim caught by Strauss. His 95 which came off 177 balls and included a six and 14 fours could have provided an answer to some of Pakistan’s opening woes.
Strauss took the new ball immediately after Hafeez departed but Yousuf and Inzamam-ul-Haq (2) saw it off safely. Pakistan were 336-3, leading England by a 163 runs when bad light stopped play.
Pakistan won toss
England 1st inns 173 (A N Cook 40; Mohammad Asif 4-56, Umar Gul 4-46)
Pakistan 1st inns (overnight 96-1)
Mohammad Hafeez c Strauss b Hoggard 95
Imran Farhat c Trescothick b Hoggard 91
Younis Khan c Read b Mahmood 9
Mohammad Yousuf not out 115
*Inzamam-ul-Haq not out 2
Extras (lb7, w11, nb6) 24
Total (3 wkts, 82 overs) 336
To bat: Faisal Iqbal, †Kamran Akmal, Shahid Nazir, Umar Gul, Danish Kaneria, Mohammad Asif
Fall: 1-70, 2-148, 3-325
Bowling: Hoggard 22-2-79-2 (4nb); Harmison 15-2-78-0 (1nb, 3w); Mahmood 18-2-74-1 (1nb) Panesar 19-3-60-0; Collingwood 6-0-29-0; Pietersen 2-0-9-0
Series: England leads the 4-Test series 2-0
Umpires: B R Doctrove (West Indies) and D B Hair (Australia). TV umpire: P J Hartley. Match referee: M J Procter (South Africa)
Note: Mohammad Hafeez retired hurt on 8 from 35-0 (7.6 overs) to 148-2 (31.3)
Previous matches: July 13-17 1st Test Lord’s, match drawn. July 27-29 2nd Test Manchester, England won by an innings and 120 runs. August 4-8 3rd Test Leeds, England won by 167 runs.
Source:The NewsMore on:Mohammad Yousuf, Pakistan, Pakistan in England 2006
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