England v Pakistan, 3rd npower Test, The Oval, 1st day August 18, 2010

Wahab you been all this time?

Debutant of the day
Wahab you been all this time? Wahab Riaz's last competitive outing came against Leicestershire a month ago, and with just five ODIs and a solitary Twenty20 in his international career to date, he was something of an unknown quantity coming into this game - especially having picked up a meagre 14 wickets at 41.50 for National Bank in the recent Quaid-e-Azam Trophy. But no matter what the state of their overall team may be, Pakistan have never been short of fast-bowling reserves, and Wahab tore onto the offensive with four wickets in his first nine overs as a Test cricketer, and 5 for 63 all told. One cautionary footnote, however. He is the ninth Pakistani to claim five wickets on debut, but with the exception of Shahid Afridi, who was primarily selected as a batsman, none of them went on to achieve greater deeds.

Failure of the day
There were plenty of failures to choose from, but few were as abject as that of Alastair Cook. With 100 runs in seven innings to date this summer, he was retained for this contest as much out of pity as anything else - with England breaking the habit of a lifetime by naming their 11 a full three days in advance of the Test to give him as much reassurance as possible. A carefree 38 from 22 balls in Essex's t20 semi-final hinted at a reinvigorated mindset, but from the moment he edged his first runs of today through gully for four, it was clear that all was not well in his game. Sure enough, he failed to see out Mohammad Asif's first over of the day, as Kamran Akmal snaffled the first of four catches behind the stumps.

Revival of the day
Aside from the lunchtime scoreline, the most remarkable aspect of Pakistan's performance was the sharpness of their fielding, which (with one notable exception - see below) could not have been further removed from their woeful effort at Edgbaston last week. And no-one better epitomised that improvement than the keeper, Kamran, who showed Cook a thing or two about the benefits of a break from the firing line. Had it not been for Zulqarnain Haider's finger injury, he would not have been playing in this match either, but instead he fronted up with a display that matched the assurance he showed during Pakistan's victory over Australia at Headingley. His day started inauspiciously, with two byes fizzing through his legs from the third ball bowled, but that was as bad as his day would get.

Stand of the day
Matt Prior and Stuart Broad are a pair of players who fancy a scrap, but to be brought together at 94 for 7 in the 32nd over was a brawl beyond even their pugilistic appetites. Nevertheless, the severity of the situation focussed their minds superbly, as they doubled the score and more in a calculated and stroke-laden 119-run onslaught. In so doing they surpassed England's previous eighth-wicket record in Tests against Pakistan, which stood at a meagre 99, and in keeping with the current Ashes hype, also nudged ahead of a trio of notable landmarks against Australia - the 117 that Botham and Dilley added in the great Headingley turnaround of 1981; the urn-sealing 109 that Pietersen and Ashley Giles compiled on this ground five years ago; and the 108 that Broad and Graeme Swann compiled out of the wreckage of last summer's rout in Leeds. Omens aplenty ...

Shy of the day
When Stuart Broad hurled the ball at Zulqarnain during the Edgbaston Test, his actions attracted widespread condemnation and accusations of petulance. When Asif did the same to Prior, striking him painfully on the heel towards the end of his excellent 84 not out, it drew a sharp intake of breath from around the ground, followed by a cacophony of pantomime boos, but that was more or less the end of that. It helped that Asif's gesture of apology was rather more fulsome than Broad's casual shrug had been, and the shy itself was also rather more justified, seeing as Prior had advanced down the track and was stretching for his crease as the bowler fielded in his followthrough.

Drop of the day
At the age of 35, and with hardly a hint of competitive cricket since the tour of Australia back in January, Mohammad Yousuf comes across as an unlikely saviour with his grey-flecked beard and slightly portly demeanour. And while all that may well change when he picks up his bat tomorrow, for the time being, the most notable moment of his comeback Test came from the penultimate ball of England's innings, when a spiralling top-edge from Prior left him looking as doddery as Cha-Cha Pakistan in a tape-ball knockabout. Prior was already walking off when the chance plopped straight through Yousuf's fingers. Fortunately for Pakistan, Steven Finn was nailed lbw one delivery later, having survived 64 balls without dismissal in the series.

Andrew Miller is UK editor of Cricinfo.

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • pochard on August 19, 2010, 11:38 GMT

    "(Cook) was retained for this contest as much out of pity as anything else..." Presumably you spoke to the selectors and this is what they told you?

  • HammadSiddiqui on August 19, 2010, 4:14 GMT

    There should be one more paragraph named "Fortunate person of the Day" and that must be Kamran Akmal because he is still in the team after a very very pathetic performance till now and I believe he would definitely not in the team if Zulqarnain were not injured.

  • pace_ace on August 19, 2010, 3:32 GMT

    Yasir hameed's brilliant catch in the slips was one of the key reasons for Pakistan resurrgence in this match, and prior's heroics wouold not have been so effective if Kamran akmal had held on to the difficult chance

  • cricket_fan_1980 on August 18, 2010, 19:52 GMT

    I cant believe Yusuf dropped that catch! lame lame lame. But some praise should be directed at Hameed's start, full of confidence and purpose. With some beautiful shots. I hope he keeps his head tomorow morning.

  • on August 18, 2010, 19:42 GMT

    I felt sorry for Yousaf...it was a shocker and he knew it. Hopefully this won't affect his batting because omens are not good for him!

  • wiiCricket on August 18, 2010, 19:09 GMT

    OMG...Kamran dropped another

  • pochard on August 19, 2010, 11:38 GMT

    "(Cook) was retained for this contest as much out of pity as anything else..." Presumably you spoke to the selectors and this is what they told you?

  • HammadSiddiqui on August 19, 2010, 4:14 GMT

    There should be one more paragraph named "Fortunate person of the Day" and that must be Kamran Akmal because he is still in the team after a very very pathetic performance till now and I believe he would definitely not in the team if Zulqarnain were not injured.

  • pace_ace on August 19, 2010, 3:32 GMT

    Yasir hameed's brilliant catch in the slips was one of the key reasons for Pakistan resurrgence in this match, and prior's heroics wouold not have been so effective if Kamran akmal had held on to the difficult chance

  • cricket_fan_1980 on August 18, 2010, 19:52 GMT

    I cant believe Yusuf dropped that catch! lame lame lame. But some praise should be directed at Hameed's start, full of confidence and purpose. With some beautiful shots. I hope he keeps his head tomorow morning.

  • on August 18, 2010, 19:42 GMT

    I felt sorry for Yousaf...it was a shocker and he knew it. Hopefully this won't affect his batting because omens are not good for him!

  • wiiCricket on August 18, 2010, 19:09 GMT

    OMG...Kamran dropped another

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  • wiiCricket on August 18, 2010, 19:09 GMT

    OMG...Kamran dropped another

  • on August 18, 2010, 19:42 GMT

    I felt sorry for Yousaf...it was a shocker and he knew it. Hopefully this won't affect his batting because omens are not good for him!

  • cricket_fan_1980 on August 18, 2010, 19:52 GMT

    I cant believe Yusuf dropped that catch! lame lame lame. But some praise should be directed at Hameed's start, full of confidence and purpose. With some beautiful shots. I hope he keeps his head tomorow morning.

  • pace_ace on August 19, 2010, 3:32 GMT

    Yasir hameed's brilliant catch in the slips was one of the key reasons for Pakistan resurrgence in this match, and prior's heroics wouold not have been so effective if Kamran akmal had held on to the difficult chance

  • HammadSiddiqui on August 19, 2010, 4:14 GMT

    There should be one more paragraph named "Fortunate person of the Day" and that must be Kamran Akmal because he is still in the team after a very very pathetic performance till now and I believe he would definitely not in the team if Zulqarnain were not injured.

  • pochard on August 19, 2010, 11:38 GMT

    "(Cook) was retained for this contest as much out of pity as anything else..." Presumably you spoke to the selectors and this is what they told you?