Cook and Collingwood make Pakistan pay
Pakistan spilled five chances; three by Imran Farhat (two simple, one tough) who had a day to forget at slip, a dolly by Kamran Akmal and a caught-and-bowled by the hardworking Danish Kaneria. Only a flashing edge from Andrew Strauss, which flew past Farhat straight where third slip would have been, can be classed as difficult, while Akmal's miss against Collingwood had to be seen to be believed. England's fifth-wicket pair made sure they paid a high price, both notching their second Test centuries to intensify the battle for batting berths.
Much of Pakistan's cricket in the day was far less inspiring. Umar Gul and Mohammad Sami struggled with the new ball which allowed Strauss and Marcus Trescothick to launch the innings with a flyer. Strauss, in his first Test as captain, had decided to bat under cloudy skies and the ball swung throughout the first session but the seamers wasted the conditions until Gul and Abdul Razzaq struck three quick blows to reduce England to 88 for 3. It was the key trio of Strauss, Trescothick and Kevin Pietersen back in the hutch and England needed two batsmen to build a sizeable partnership. Cook and Collingwood responded in style and it was by no means a defensive rearguard.
The run-rate in the morning session didn't dip below four-an-over and five boundaries came in the first two overs after lunch. Collingwood was the main beneficiary as he belted Kaneria's short balls and made use of the vacant third-man region. Cook, whose sound temperament has stood out early in his international career, was again unflustered by whatever he faced after being shelled by Farhat on nought.
Standing tall against the seamers, Cook received further moments of good fortune when Steve Bucknor didn't detect a thin edge off Kaneria on 43, then Kaneria himself spilled a caught-and-bowled chance with Cook on 45. Collingwood eased to his fifty with a well-timed drive off the back foot and his strokeplay through the off side was one of the major features of his innings.
The rapid progress of the afternoon session slowed after tea as the batsmen consolidated while the bowlers went into a holding role. Akmal's error, grassing Collingwood on 79, surpassed anything that went before it or that would come later. It was a regulation edge and the wicketkeeper barely got a glove on it. Akmal picked up a finger injury during the warm-up match against England A at Canterbury and there must be some lasting damage from the blow. However, he should have taken it with his eyes shut.
Collingwood, though, progressed in his usual phlegmatic style and went to his second Test century off 157 balls after taking his time to work through the nineties. The stand grew past 200 and Collingwood then kept Cook calm as he became stuck approaching his landmark. A few nervous prods, with the overs ticking down, kept the crowd on the edge of their seats but the ton eventually arrived off 259 balls as Cook continues to make fine strides.
England's early progress had been checked when Trescothick flashed loosely at Gul and Razzaq produced an impressive burst. Razzaq made his first mark by trapping Strauss. Pietersen's stay was short lived, a run-a-ball 21, with four mouth-watering boundaries which left the Lord's crowd groaning in disappointment when he padded up to Razzaq. The ball would have flown over the off stump, but Pietersen rarely has a need to not use his bat.
It was shaping to be another wasteful performance from England; batsmen getting in and not going on. However, Cook and Collingwood banished those thoughts with an outstanding performance. England's recent concerns have centred on the bowling department, but today confirmed that there needs to be no such worries about the depth of the batting.
Marcus Trescothick c Akmal b Gul 16 (60 for 1)
Wafted at a wide ball, thick edge
Andrew Strauss lbw b Razzaq 30 (60 for 2)
Pitched in line, nipped back, hitting top of middle although hint of an edge
Kevin Pietersen lbw b Razzaq 21 (88 for 3)
No shot, hit top of pad, going over offstump
Andrew McGlashan is editorial assistant of Cricinfo