England v Pakistan, 3rd npower Test, The Oval, 2nd day

Azhar Ali builds priceless lead for Pakistan

The Report by Andrew McGlashan

August 19, 2010

Comments: 37 | Text size: A | A

England 233 and 6 for 1 (Cook 0*, Anderson 2*) trail Pakistan 308 (Azhar 92*, Yousuf 56, Swann 4-68) by 69 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details


Azhar Ali drives during his half-century, England v Pakistan, 3rd Test, The Oval, August 19, 2010
Azhar Ali held Pakistan together after Mohammad Yousuf made 56 as the visitors built a useful lead at The Oval © Getty Images
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Azhar Ali was rendered virtually scoreless last week but showed his true talents at The Oval as his outstanding, unbeaten 92 earned Pakistan a valuable lead of 75. Mohammad Yousuf played his part with a composed 56 before becoming Graeme Swann's 100th Test wicket and, though the visitors would have liked a greater advantage, it grew in significance when Andrew Strauss fell before the close.

For the first time during the season Pakistan passed 300 as Azhar and Mohammad Asif added a priceless 38 for the last wicket to frustrate England's efforts to wrap up the innings. Andrew Strauss dropped Asif at slip on 4 - in what would become a bad hour for the England captain - and it took a further seven overs before the No. 11 drove Swann to mid-off with Azhar left eight short of a maiden Test hundred.

That left the home side with an awkward 15 minutes to survive, but Strauss couldn't see out the first over when, having already under-edged a pull past the stumps, edged low to second slip against Mohammad Amir who has removed Strauss four times in the series. Alastair Cook will have been relieved to face just two balls as James Anderson did his job as nightwatchman and the third day will provide an examination of the belief in both teams.

The presence of Yousuf in the middle order certainly had an immediate effect on Pakistan and not only in the obvious manner of the runs he scored. The calmness he exuded at the crease filtered through to his partners. Firstly, Wahab Riaz fought hard for two hours, and then Azhar played far more positively than at Edgbaston. Azhar faced a total of 117 balls in the previous Test for just 19 runs, but moved along at a livelier pace as 104 runs were added during the afternoon session.

Yousuf understandably took time to play himself in and was beaten by a few good deliveries, but slowly began to find his feet with a neat clip through backward square and a straight drive off Steven Finn. After lunch he began to increase the tempo, but never moved out of his comfort zone of accumulation with effortless glides to third man being of particular frustration to the pacemen. His fifty came from 95 balls and it was hard to tell he'd been out of Test cricket for seven months or had barely picked up a bat before his retirement u-turn following the SOS that went out from the Pakistan management to join this tour.

It was Swann that made him work hardest and that was a huge compliment to England's offspinner, who was belatedly added to the ICC Cricketer of the Year list after controversially missing out yesterday. He gave another display of his class when, switching to around the wicket, he persuaded Yousuf to offer a return catch and became the seventh-fastest Englishman to 100 wickets, taking 23 Tests to draw level with Derek Underwood.

However, Yousuf's departure didn't herald an immediate collapse as Azhar continued to time the ball sweetly and Umar Akmal lofted Swann for a handsome straight six. Umar continued aggressively, but shortly after taking Pakistan into the lead ran himself out when he went for a non-existent single to cover and couldn't turn around in time to beat Eoin Morgan's throw. England then worked through the lower order with the second new ball, but Azhar played superbly and unfurled some powerful strokes when left with Asif including a thumping blow to long-off against Finn.

England had made the perfect start to the day when Finn found Yasir Hameed's outside edge with the second ball of the day and it looked as though Pakistan would struggle again. Salman Butt, demoted down the order after Hameed's inclusion, was given an early life when Morgan spilled a catch at backward point although it didn't prove too costly for England as Swann once again struck as soon as he came into the attack.

Butt top-edged a cut and Prior juggled the ball before finally holding onto the chance which left Pakistan wobbling on 76 for 3. But Riaz proved much harder to shift despite a first-class average of 15.22. As with his bowling yesterday he grinned his way through most of the innings and it looked as though he would see out the session until he missed a sweep at the first ball of Swann's second spell. However, Riaz's main job will resume on Friday when Pakistan try to make their hard-earned advantage count.

Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at Cricinfo

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by khurramsch on (August 20, 2010, 11:35 GMT)

pakistan palyed OK but not as good as they should have. again there is problem with there strike rate. thy just managed 233 for 5 in 80 overs {old ball was not doing any thing that time} with new ball due and after new ball rest of wickets fall very quickly thanks to last wicket stand which gave 75 lead but that lead will not be enough baring in mind that last inings will be pakistans. 4th inings always dificult and in these conditions it will be very dificult. lets hope pak bowlers bowl them as soon as posible.

Posted by Tintin14 on (August 20, 2010, 11:10 GMT)

On a very different note...Ajmal reminds me of the Pakistani classic music meastro Rahat Fateh Ali Khan! =)

Posted by   on (August 20, 2010, 10:55 GMT)

Azhar ali is a great talent and nw he needs to carry on..and should not waste this talent...i feel sorry for umer akmal..i really thought he will be one the best pakistani batsmen bt he dissapointed me big time.

Posted by Pak-cricket on (August 20, 2010, 10:47 GMT)

PCB has work on merit those player should not be in the team who are not good enough to be there.. Pak Test Team Yasir hameed, salman Butt, Yonus, Yosuf, Azhar Ali/Fawad Alam, Umar akmal, Kamran Akmal/Zulqarnain, Abdul Razaq, M amir, M asif, Waha/Gul, Saeed Ajmal In one day Iclude Asad Shafiq and Afridi thats enough

Posted by   on (August 20, 2010, 10:25 GMT)

In such a disastrous time for Pakistan Cricket , Azhar has risen to occassion and showed his talent for sure

Posted by karthikfromchennai on (August 20, 2010, 10:00 GMT)

PCB fooled everyone by banning yousuf youhana and younis for life

Posted by karthikfromchennai on (August 20, 2010, 9:58 GMT)

the tainted...banned for life cricketer...yousuf youhana is back to the side. Augurs well for Pakistan cricket

Posted by muhammadfaisalcrazy on (August 20, 2010, 9:44 GMT)

thats why i always support muhammad yousuf. he is a class player always played well in test cricket. he not only scored runs but also guide the youngsters whcih can be devastating for the oponent.

No doubt he is a great player. slap on the faces of his oponents. YOUSUF BHAI TUSSI GREAT HO.

Posted by NumptyatCricket on (August 20, 2010, 9:43 GMT)

At last a proper test match for England! Spirited batting from Pakistan has shown up the inexperience and hype surrounding the English bowling. The way the England top order looks Pakistan could well be in a position to win the game tonight - good luck to them too. Looking ahead to the winter, its difficult to see just how England plan to beat Australia in their own back yard. I think the current group have promise but little in the way of real class.

Posted by   on (August 20, 2010, 9:16 GMT)

in test arena experience does supply vital impacts.

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Andrew McGlashanClose
Andrew McGlashan Assistant Editor Andrew arrived at ESPNcricinfo via Manchester and Cape Town, after finding the assistant editor at a weak moment as he watched England's batting collapse in the Newlands Test. Andrew began his cricket writing as a freelance covering Lancashire during 2004 when they were relegated in the County Championship. In fact, they were top of the table when he began reporting on them but things went dramatically downhill. He likes to let people know that he is a supporter of county cricket, a fact his colleagues will testify to and bemoan in equal quantities.
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