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August 21, 2010
Omen of the day
A target of 148 would be a formality for most teams. Not for Pakistan, who have already been bowled out for 80 and 72 in the series to date, and who shed seven wickets in pursuit of 180 against Australia at Headingley last month. So when Yasir Hameed, whose belligerent 36 had been invaluable in the first innings, was snaffled at slip for a first-ball duck, the visiting dressing-room had every reason to worry. The moment, however, was so nearly lost. Graeme Swann at second slip has been under the weather in this match, but he reacted with impressive sharpness after fumbling his initial take off James Anderson. As with Andrew Strauss at Trent Bridge, the chance was plummeting to earth before he stooped forward to rescue it.
Buttress of the day
Since assuming the captaincy in chaotic circumstances at Lord's back in July, Salman Butt has led from the front in every way except the most obvious. His calm demeanour has not been able to mask a tally of 16 runs in the first four innings against England, and though he exceeded that in his first-innings 17, he was still under immense pressure as he walked out to replace Hameed in that first over of the innings. Credit where it is due, then, for a forceful and vital performance. Though he fell short of a deserved fifty, Butt's battling approach drew the early sting of England's previously formidable seam attack, before two volleys of strokeplay - 10 runs in an over off Steven Finn and 12 off Stuart Broad - accounted for a sixth of the target there and then.
Delivery of the day
Though Butt fell with 45 still required, while Mohammad Yousuf was in situ, everything was under control for Pakistan. England's tactic of bowling wide to make him chase the game failed to take into account both his immense temperament and his deft eye for an opportunity, as he ignored all offerings from the seamers while dabbing the slightest width from Graeme Swann through third man for four. But then, out of the blue, Anderson re-evaluated his tactics and produced a thunderbolt to transform the closing stages of the contest. A pearling outswinging yorker uprooted Yousuf's off stump, and suddenly Pakistan's cakewalk was reduced to a scrounge for crumbs.
Incisor of the day
With their pacemen off the mark until Anderson's late onslaught, England's only option was to rely on the wiles of Swann, and with his habitual sense of purpose he did his best not to disappoint. In his fourth over, he pinned Imran Farhat lbw for 33, then he did for Butt via a low nick to slip, before handing Kamran Akmal his third duck in four innings courtesy of a no-stroke lbw. In between whiles, he skilfully deflected a shy from point onto the stumps to run out Azhar Ali. Had he been given as little as 30 more runs to play with, he might well have had the wherewithal to tighten the noose even further. But England made their own bed by losing their last seven wickets for 28. Not even Swann could overcome that sort of meltdown.
Landmark of the day
Mohammad Amir did the bulk of his damage in a blistering hour after tea on the third day, but in the space of four balls on the fourth and final morning he showed that a good night's sleep hadn't interrupted his rhythm one jot. A single to Steven Finn was as good as it got for England, as Amir banged in a short ball to the belligerent Stuart Broad, who swished a looping catch to Mohammad Asif. The dismissal completed a richly deserved five-for for Amir, and a notable one as well. Only three teenagers have taken a five-wicket haul in a Test in England, and at 18 years and 130 days, he is the youngest of the lot.
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