or what is a Wahab Riaz? That was the question on everyone's lips at the start
of play at The Oval, but by stumps everyone was well aware of the Wasim Akram
debutant, who did not manage to take more than two wickets in an innings during
the entirety of the Pakistan first-class season, mustered three in the morning
session alone to run through the England top order and took five in all.
who could make the red cherry walk and talk like no one else, would have been
grinning broadly as the man nicknamed Vicky had England's batsmen on the hop
with his slightly-brisker-than-medium pace seam bowling.
and prolific fumbler Kamran 'calamity' Akmal returned to the team after being
dropped for the second Test and restored usual service with an astonishing clanger
in the first over of the day but responded with four catches.
continued to look like a village outfit with their morning fielding drills, and
coach Waqar Younis was astonishingly left 40 not out after 20 minutes of
dollying up deliberate edges to his side's haphazard slip cordon. But with
Akmal suddenly looking like Alan Knott behind the stumps, it did not matter.
keeper first snaffled Alastair Cook, as the 'chef' continued his wretched run
of form and looked as out of nick as a blindfolded Philip Clive Roderick
Tufnell, and the rest of the England top and middle order did not fare much
then edged behind off the debutant Riaz, despite the fact that it took a review
to see the England skipper sent back to the hutch after umpire Tony Hill
temporarily lost his hearing and eyesight in a traumatic few seconds for the
Graeme Swann was at the crease quicker than you could say 'where are those
screwdrivers?' and the irrepressible Riaz was left to give the ever-combative Stuart
Broad a bucket load of jip on his follow through.
Mohammad Asif bowling with the keeper standing up to the stumps brought back
shades of Alec Bedser - it was just a shame that Akmal is no Godfrey Evans as
he put down a simple catch off the seamer to hand Matty Prior a reprieve.
reminded everyone that he was justified in putting 'England all-rounder' on his
Facebook profile with an enterprising 48, while Prior went on to compile a
composed and confident 84 before he ran out of partners.
mention must go to Mohammad Yousuf who, on his overdue return, assumed third
place in Pakistan's 'worst dropped catches of the series' countdown with a
horrid piece of cricket at cover after Prior had sliced a dolly up into the air.
But, no matter, England were all out two balls later.
Hameed dislodged his skipper Salman Butt at the top of the order, and the
opener proceeded to bat with incredible audacity for his 36 with a flurry of
lusty blows and inventive flicks.
bowled the obdurate and block-happy Imran Farhat in the final over before
stumps, but the day belonged to Riaz, who fittingly ended it giving the England
players as much chirp as the nightwatchman as he had with the cherry in hand.
SHOT OF THE DAY: Hameed not only plundered 22
runs off two Broad overs, but somehow managed to hit a six off the back of his
bat as the infuriated paceman gave him some chin music and was left seething at
the top of his mark.
STAT OF THE DAY: Broad and Prior's partnership
of 119 for the eighth wicket was the highest from an England pair against
Pakistan, beating the 99 compiled by Peter Parfitt and David Allen at
Headingley in 1962.
USER COMMENT OF THE DAY: "Thank God Pakistan
can't bat. Otherwise England may have got themselves into a spot of bother
today." (Garyplatt7, without a
hint of complacency, provides his assessment of the day.)
SIDENOTE OF THE DAY: How in the name of WG Grace
has Graeme Swann not been included in the ICC's long-list for the Cricketer of
the Year award? It demonstrates staggeringly poor judgement from the sport's suits,
who have clearly not left their corporate boxes to watch much of the cricket
over the past 12 months.
- Wahab Riaz