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Last Updated: Thursday, 17 August 2006, 18:33 GMT 19:33 UK
Pakistan put England on the rack
England 173 v Pakistan 96-1

Mohammad Asif celebrates one of his four wickets with Younis Khan
Asif celebrates one of his four wickets with Younis Khan

Pakistan finally woke from their slumber to produce a stirring performance on day one of the final Test against England at The Oval.

They won the toss, put England in, bowled immaculately to dismiss them for 173 and replied well, closing on 96-1.

Mohammad Asif showed how much Pakistan had missed him in the first three matches of the series as he returned from an elbow injury to take 4-56.

And fellow fast bowler Umar Gul backed him up brilliantly to take 4-46.

The best individual score England's batsmen could muster was Alastair Cook's 40, with Andrew Strauss and Chris Read both scraping into the thirties.

England's dreadful day was made worse late in the final session when they dropped Pakistan's best batsman, Mohammad Yousuf, twice before he had reached double figures.

Asif and Gul found conventional swing and seam early on, and some devastating reverse swing after tea.

By contrast, England's own seamers struggled to get any movement at all, and also bowled inconsistently.

Play began on time, but after just two deliveries from Asif - one of which fizzed past Marcus Trescothick's outside edge - a sharp shower ruled out any further play for half an hour.

When Asif resumed his over, he had one vociferous appeal for lbw against Trescothick declined. It was soon clear Pakistan's bowlers meant business.

England took an early lunch on 27-0 but there was no rain at all from the afternoon onwards and the hosts struggled from then on.

Trescothick never settled. His unhappy series received its latest setback when he erroneously tried to attack a Gul delivery, bowled short and just outside his off-stump.

K Pietersen
Pietersen's golden duck summed up a tough day for England

A thick edge ended up in gully's lap and England were 36-1, the Somerset man making just six.

Five overs later, Strauss, who had pulled and driven through the off-side effortlessly, edged Asif to Kamran Akmal.

And the very next ball, Asif produced a snorter which pitched on off-stump, and held its line, Kevin Pietersen getting a thin edge through to Akmal.

With the ball moving both ways, Paul Collingwood lasted just seven deliveries - enough to pass 1,000 Test runs in his 15th match - before Asif jagged one back to trap him lbw and England were 64-4.

Ian Bell, hunting a fourth century in as many Tests, managed to see off Asif and the other two seamers for a while.

But the Warwickshire right-hander had not yet reached double figures when Danish Kaneria removed him in his first over, as silly point took a comfortable catch off inside edge and pad.

Cook played some lovely back-foot forcing shots through the off-side and read Kaneria well.


So it was a surprise when Shahid Nazir's yorker from round the wicket trapped him lbw in front of off-stump, the ball going on to hit middle.

Sajid Mahmood was extremely lucky to survive until tea. He could have been out twice to Kaneria on nought, but Akmal missed a stumping and umpire Darrell Hair declined to uphold an lbw appeal.

Read and Mahmood put on 46 either side of the interval - the best partnership of the innings - to take England up to 158-6, at which point they might have hoped to pass 200.

But the wickets clattered once Gul and Asif got the ball to reverse.

Gul bowled Mahmood, Read and Panesar, and in between his last two dismissals Matthew Hoggard nicked Asif to Akmal.

Pakistan had made three changes from the side beaten at Headingley, with the two opening batsmen and paceman Mohammad Sami all dropped.

Asif had replaced in place of Sami, and two fresh openers entered the fray in Mohammad Hafeez and Imran Farhat.

With Hoggard and Steve Harmison wasting the new ball, Hafeez and Farhat comfortably took the score to 35-0 before Hafeez had to retire with a knee problem.

New man Younis Khan was unlucky to glove Mahmood down the leg-side and before stumps England had spurned two chances to remove Yousuf.

Trescothick (at slip) and Cook (at gully) each dropped catches off Hoggard's bowling and at stumps, with Farhat 56 not out, Pakistan were sitting pretty.

Farhat had played some lavish shots through the off-side, but his defensive technique looked strong as well.


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