Prior spares England's blushes
PA Sport - Wed, 18 Aug 19:00:00 2010
Pakistan enjoyed their best day of a troubled series as they dismissed England for 233 on day one of the third Test at The Oval and, but for Matt Prior, it would have been significantly better.
Prior, with 84 not out, batted with a composure and confidence lacking throughout England's top six, who were undone by a combination of helpful conditions and skilful bowling from the tourists.
Debutant Wahab Riaz, standing in for the injured Umar Gul, returned five for 63, with James Anderson taking England's only wicket in the final over as Pakistan reached the close on 48 for one.
Pakistan, 2-0 behind after two matches, reached stumps 185 behind, a deficit that would have been significantly smaller had Stuart Broad, who made 48, not joined Prior for a 119-run eighth-wicket stand.
England's plight began soon after Andrew Strauss won the toss and opted to bat, with Alastair Cook's lean spell continuing in the second over of the day. The horribly out-of-sorts opener lasted just seven unconvincing balls before feathering Mohammad Asif to the recalled Kamran Akmal for six. Jonathan Trott had fewer difficulties getting started, crashing his first ball to the cover boundary, and leaving well thereafter.
Strauss welcomed Wahab Riaz to Test cricket with two fours in his first over but the left-armer took his revenge on his next visit, Strauss given out on review after umpire Tony Hill missed a big edge. Riaz struck again with the first ball of his fourth over, slanting one across Jonathan Trott who flashed to the diving Yasir Hameed at slip.
Paul Collingwood (five) made it 47 for four when he chopped Mohammad Aamer on to his stumps and Kevin Pietersen made only six in a loose 29-ball stay before Riaz struck again. The lunch interval did little to raise England's performance, Eoin Morgan fending Riaz to Akmal without adding to his score of 17. His brother Umar got in on the act soon after, holding a chance presented by Graeme Swann in the cordon off Asif as England lurched to 94 for seven.
Pakistan turned to spin for the first time midway through the afternoon session and Broad swept Saeed Ajmal confidently from the off. Prior moved to 50 when he flayed his 92nd ball over gully and brought up the team 200 with a crisp driven four off Asif.
Broad slowed as he approached a half-century and he was eventually trapped lbw by Riaz, who celebrated his five-wicket haul with vigour. Anderson came and went for a four-ball duck as Asif swung one back at him to win another leg-before verdict. Prior was reprieved when Mohammad Yousuf dropped the simplest of catches at cover but Ajmal spared the returning veteran's blushes by removing Steven Finn with his next delivery.
With a potentially awkward hour on the cards Pakistan started positively, Hameed taking 14 off Broad's third over, including a miscued six off the toe of the bat. Imran Farhat batted more cautiously but was bowled by Anderson for 11 with three balls left in the day.