Andrew Strauss on Sunday hit form with a crucial century to keep the home side in hunt for a victory against Pakistan in the opening Test at Lordâ€™s.
The left-hander, leading England in the absence of Michael Vaughan and the second choice captain Andrew Flintoff, braved an aggressive display of spin bowling from Danish Kaneria and Shahid Afridi as the hosts piled up 258-7 for a 341-run second innings lead on the fourth day.
Liam Plunkett and Matthew Hoggard were Englandâ€™s unbeaten batsmen at stumps. Pakistan did take a couple of wickets in the last few minutes through Kaneria before stumps but Straussâ€™ 129 had taken England to what seems to be quite a safe zone.
To win the match, Pakistan will have to come out with an extra-ordinary show as they would first need to wrap up Englandâ€™s innings on the final morning, in case Strauss doesnâ€™t declare, and then score the required runs at a fast pace to achieve a win. A draw seems to be a more realistic result though England would fancy bowling out Pakistan before close.
England held an upper hand after folding Pakistanâ€™s first innings in the morning through their pace duo of Steve Harmison and Hoggard. But Pakistanâ€™s saviour Mohammad Yousuf got enough time to complete a memorable double hundred, his 202 being the best individual effort by a Pakistani at Lordâ€™s surpassing Mohsin Khanâ€™s 200 on the 1982 tour. Pakistan were bowled out for 445, their best ever score at the â€˜home of cricketâ€™ but were still 83 runs short of England.
Pakistan replied by reducing England to 146-4 at one stage with medium pacer Umar Gul taking two wickets and Kaneria and Afridi bowling well on a more responsive track. But Strauss hung on and together with Ian Bell put on 57 for the fifth wicket before a stunning, direct throw from Inzamam-ul-Haq sent back his partner after tea.
Strauss began Englandâ€™s second innings confidently with Marcus Trescothick in a bid to build up a sizeable lead for his side. Trescothick got a life when Akmal dropped a simple chance off Gul, diving needlessly to his left even as the ball was travelling towards Inzamam in the slip.
But Gul got rid of his man, clean bowled as Pakistan made it clear they were still in contention. Gul struck again a few overs later when first innings centurion Alastair Cook miscued him towards mid on and Yousuf took a comfortable catch.
Kevin Piteresen looked in command in a 41-run cameo but Afridi had the better of him, deceiving the Englandâ€™s premier batsman in flight and Akmal made no mistake. England were then 224 runs ahead. But they did feel some pressure when Paul Collingwood followed his Test best 186 with a rash shot off Kaneria that went in Salman Buttâ€™s hands to bring England at 146-4.
However, Strauss continued to play the spinners with authority and consolidated the lead with Bell. A bad call from the England captain, playing on 99 and attempting a run, resulted in Bell being run out but by then they were leading by 286 runs.
Minutes later, Strauss completed an eighth Test ton and his first at Lordâ€™s with a gentle push off Afridi. He took 160 balls to score his first Test hundred against Pakistan which also included 11 fours. He lost Geraint Jones with three overs to go in the dayâ€™s play when the wicket-keeper, struggling for runs, was caught by Akmal off Kaneria with England 333 runs ahead at 250.
Strauss soon joined him when he edged a Kaneria delivery to Imran Farhat in the slip two balls later at 129. He batted for just over five hours, faced 214 balls and hit 13 fours. Kaneria added to his three-wicket haul in the first innings with 3-73 in 29 overs, Gul took 2-57 while Afridi finished with 1-59.
Earlier, trailing 119 runs behind England, Pakistan began the matchâ€™s penultimate day at 409-7 and with Yousuf and Afridi there, they had realistic hopes of adding at least a hundred or so runs more to their first innings total.
Afridi did not waste time in making his intentions with three boundaries that took him to 17 in 20 balls. But a Harmison delivery hit him on the thumb and he seemed in considerable pain. A few minutes later he spooned Hoggard towards mid off where Ian Bell made no mistake and Pakistan were 435-8.
Hoggard struck again three balls later getting Umar Gul caught behind and Yousufâ€™s hopes of making his second double century against England in a row started to fade. In a bid to shield Danish Kaneria from the pacers, he opted against taking a few possible singles.
However, Kaneria survived anxious moments but did well enough to stay there and allow Yousuf to complete an elegant and well-deserved 200. Yousuf, however, didnâ€™t last longer after that and became Harmison fourth victim while trying to steer him towards third man only to see an edge flying into Jonesâ€™ safe hands.
The wicket-keeper under pressure to keep his place in the England team in the face of a strong competition coming from Chris Read had a fantastic outing with a five-catch haul for the fourth time in Test cricket.
It was Yousufâ€™s fourth double century In Tests and a second straight one against England after an emphatic 223 at home last winter. It took him 330 balls to score his 202 and hit 26 elegant fours and a well-struck six.
Harmison, making his Test comeback after missing the home series against Sri Lanka, was rewarded for bowling with commendable hostility on a flat wicket with a haul of 4-94. Hoggard finished with 3-117 while Liam Plunkett chipped in with 2-78. Spinner Monty Panesar bowled 27 overs but remained wicketless on a pitch that was offering more turn than in the preceding days of the match.
England won toss
England 1st inns 528-9 dec (A N Cook 105, P D Collingwood 186, I R Bell 100*)
Pakistan 1st inns (overnight 409-7)
Salman Butt c Strauss b Harmison 10
Imran Farhat b Plunkett 33
Faisal Iqbal c Collingwood b Harmison 0
Mohammad Yousuf c Jones b Harmison 202
Mohammad Sami c Jones b Hoggard 0
*Inzamam-ul-Haq b Plunkett 69
Abdul Razzaq c Jones b Harmison 22
â€ Kamran Akmal c Jones b Pietersen 58
Shahid Afridi c Bell b Hoggard 17
Umar Gul c Jones b Hoggard 0
Danish Kaneria not out 1
Extras (b7, lb14, w7, nb5) 33
Total (all out, 119.3 overs) 445
Fall: 1-28, 2-28, 3-65, 4-68, 5-241, 6-300, 7-399, 8-435, 9-436
Bowling: Hoggard 33-3-117-3 (5nb, 1w); Harmison 29.3-6-94-4; Panesar 27-3-93-0; Plunkett 21-3-78-2 (4w); Collingwood 7-1-31-0 (2w); Pietersen 2-0-11-1
England 2nd inns
M E Trescothick b Umar 18
*A J Strauss c Imran b Kaneria 128
A N Cook c Yousuf b Umar 4
K P Pietersen st Kamran b Afridi 41
P D Collingwood c Salman b Kaneria 3
I R Bell run out (Inzamam) 28
â€ G O Jones c Kamran b Kaneria 16
L E Plunkett not out 5
M J Hoggard not out 0
Extras (b4, lb6, nb5) 15
Total (7 wkts, 77 overs) 258
To bat: S J Harmison, M S Panesar
Fall: 1-38, 2-64, 3-141, 4-146, 5-203, 6-250, 7-253
Bowling: Mohammad Sami 6-1-23-0; Umar Gul 16-3-57-2 (3nb); Danish Kaneria 29-4-73-3; Abdul Razzaq 7-0-31-0; Shahid Afridi 18-1-59-1 (2nb); Imran Farhat 1-0-5-0
Umpires: S A Bucknor (West Indies) and S J A Taufel (Australia). TV umpire: P J Hartley. Match referee: R S Madugalle (Sri Lanka)
Remaining matches: July 27-31 2nd Test, Manchester. August 4-8 3rd Test, Leeds. August 17-21 4th Test, The Oval
Yousufâ€™s second double-ton
LONDON: Pakistan Test double centuries against England after Mohammad Yousuf was out for 202 on the fourth day of the first Test at Lordâ€™s on Sunday:
274 Zaheer Abbas Edgbaston 1971
240 Zaheer Abbas The Oval 1974
200 Mohsin Khan Lordâ€™s 1982
260 Javed Miandad The Oval 1987
205 Aamer Sohail Old Trafford 1992
223 Mohammad Yousuf Lahore 2005
202 Mohammad Yousuf Lordâ€™s 2006
Source:The NewsMore on:Andrew Strauss, england, Pakistan, Pakistan in England 2006
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