England v Pakistan, 4th Test, The Oval, 3rd day August 19, 2006

Asif strikes after Iqbal boosts lead

England 173 and 78 for 1( Strauss 37*, Cook 33*) trail Pakistan 504 (Yousuf 128, Hafeez 95, Farhat 91, Iqbal 58*, Harmison 4-125) by 253 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
How they were out



Faisal Iqbal evades a short ball during his 58 © Getty Images
Pakistan continued to make all the running on the third day at The Oval, as they piled up a 331-run lead, despite an improved performance in the field from England. Faisal Iqbal boosted Pakistan's advantage with an aggressive half-century after Inzamam-ul-Haq and Mohammad Yousuf fell in successive overs. Mohammad Asif's fine match continued when he nailed Marcus Trescothick early and England still trail by 253.

Asif could easily have had further wickets during the evening session as both Andrew Strauss and Alastair Cook were uncomfortable against his late swing. He ended Trescothick's poor series with the bat by jumping wider on the crease, slanting the ball across him, and the nick flew through to Kamran Akmal, whose diving catch was another sign of Pakistan's sharpness. Strauss and Cook played positively before bad light arrived 20 minutes before the close, but the ball is turning for Danish Kaneria. For the first time in the series he will be able to bowl a long spell with Pakistan in the ascendancy.

The day went virtually how Inzamam would have planned, even taking into account the flurry of wickets during the afternoon session when he was one of three to fall for 19 runs after a lengthy rain break. Inzamam has found a variety of ways of being dismissed in the series - from being caught off the boot at Old Trafford, to falling on his stumps at Headingley - but has carried the air of a man determined to gain some revenge. He drove and pulled with conviction between the rain and appeared set to end the series with a significant score.

However, Harmison finally clicked himself out of first gear - he'd almost slipped into reverse yesterday - and it was just in the nick of time. In the context of the match it has come too late to bring a victory, and in all likelihood also a draw, but there has been a wider context surrounding this match. Although England won't admit it, their minds have been on the Ashes since they won the series at Headingley. The Australians, though, will be quick to climb all over any weakness that is exposed.

But Harmison roused himself and produced a lifter that Inzamam fended to second slip. He didn't show much emotion, more the face of relieved man who knows he had let his team down earlier. Before play started it was said Harmison received treatment for a sore back, and early on his pace was still down, but when the wickets arrived he slipped himself and reached the high 80s.

Though it was a marked improvement, too many balls still went down the leg side to say he was returning to form and he'd again failed to strike in the vital stages of the match. But when he added Akmal, then wrapped up the innings in three balls, his figures for the day were in stark contrast to Friday; 15.5-4-47-4 against 15-2-78-0.



Mohammad Asif removes Marcus Trescothick early to round off another fine day for Pakistan © Getty Images
While Harmison's spell was pleasing for England in the bigger picture, being bowled out also helped Pakistan because it stopped them dragging their heels with the dodgy weather around. Yousuf had seemed intent on batting all day but was drawn into a rare prod at Matthew Hoggard - who'd set him up with a series of outswingers - after facing 236 balls.

Iqbal ensured that though wickets were lost, momentum wasn't. With just the tail for company, he played his shots after tea and reached fifty off 79 balls. He hasn't endeared himself to the England team after some verbals, a trait of his uncle Javed Miandad, and received a taste of his own medicine during a fiery over from Sajid Mahmood. England thought a bouncer had brushed the glove, but replays showed it was shirt - Mahmood didn't back down from a chirp.

Monty Panesar has been through a slightly sobering experience after the highs of the last two Tests, but finally claimed a wicket when he trapped Umar Gul lbw. Earlier, Shahid Nazir had briefly taken the long-handle approach - and been dropped at long on - but Panesar kept plugging away.

Kaneria was caught at slip in unconventional style as Trescothick initially spilled the chance, fell backwards, and popped the ball up with his leg to hold it in his chest. Two balls later Asif equalled an unwanted record with his fifth consecutive duck, gloving a bouncer to short leg. But his main role is with the ball and the early wicket started the job in exemplary fashion. There are nine more to go for Pakistan and don't bet against Asif getting his fair share of those.

How they were out

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Andrew McGlashan is editorial assistant of Cricinfo