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Last Updated: Saturday, 19 August 2006, 18:16 GMT 19:16 UK
Fourth Test: day three as it happened
FOURTH TEST, THE OVAL, DAY THREE:
England 173 and 78-1 v Pakistan 504

England face a tough battle to avoid defeat in the fourth Test against Pakistan despite an improved bowling display on day three at The Oval.

They finally dismissed the tourists for 504 with Steve Harmison (4-123) and Matthew Hoggard (3-124) impressing.

But Faisal Iqbal (58) helped Pakistan to a lead of 331 and England were 8-1 when Marcus Trescothick edged behind.

Andrew Strauss (37) and Alastair Cook (33) dug in to take them to 78-1 and will need more of the same on Sunday.

LATEST ACTION All times BST

By Tom Fordyce

BAD LIGHT STOPS PLAY

1907: Hair and Doctrove, clearly weary after a long day on their feet, pull out the light meters, prod them a bit and offer the light to the batsmen. Strauss and Cook lap it up and the players wander off. That'll be it for the day, surely.

1901: Strauss edges an Asif seamer just wide of third slip for four, and moves on to 37. Solid skipper action.

"Strauss has been playing with limp wrists, and that saved him there." Christopher Martin-Jenkins, Test Match Special

1854: Cook's quite enjoying this. It's almost as if he's treating Danish as a lesson ahead of a clash with Shane Down Under this winter.

1845: Danish Kaneria comes on for a joust at Cook. There's a touch of turn there, but Cook is happy to kick them away. At the other end, Asif drops one short and Strauss pulls merrily for four.

1837: Mohammad Hafeez is coming on to try some gentle off-breaks. The shadows from the stands now stretch halfway down the wicket, although we should be fine to squeeze in the remaining 11 or so overs.

1831: Strauss drives Gul down the ground for four and then pulls him for four more. Cheers from the crowd, who are very quiet considering it's gone 6pm on a Saturday at The Oval.

1824: Without wanting to tempt fate, Cook and Strauss are beginning to look a little more confident. Cook eases Asif to the midwicket boundary while Strauss is looking to attack whenever he can. Asif responds with a bouncer so high that Cook on Strauss's shoulders couldn't have reached it.

1817: Cook edges through the slips for four. Asif is sniffing a second breakthrough here, but after Cook works a single Strauss leans back and drives to the cover boundary. Hearts are still pounding. England would love to be offered the light, but it's probably as bright now as it's been all day.

1807: Cook gets off the mark with a pushed single. England are under the cosh here - you sense that Asif and Gul have got more wickets in them here.

1757: WICKET - Trescothick caught Akmal bowled Asif 4
Disaster for England - Banger chases a ball angled across him, gets an edge and Akmal takes a fine diving catch in front of first slip. That one was just a bit wider, and Tresco couldn't resist a nibble.

1752: Gul comes roaring in - on a hat-trick after taking the wickets of Read and Panesar - and lobs one gently a foot down the leg-side. With his next he beats Strauss outside off-stump, before Strauss clips him off his legs for four and survives a big lbw shout. It's all happening...

1748: A testing maiden from Asif to start proceedings. Trescothick is beaten twice and looks phlegmatic. Nervy moments for England fans.

1743: Pakistan look very happy with themselves - lots of laughing and joking as they walk out. England's openers look altogether more serious, and who can blame them?

INNINGS BREAK

1733: WICKET - Asif caught Cook bowled Hamison 0
Asif didn't fancy that one little bit. After trying to play his first delivery from just in front of the square leg umpire, he jumps into the next one and spoons it straight to Cook at short square leg. Pakistan are all out for 504, with a lead of 331.

1730: WICKET - Kaneria caught Trescothick bowled Harmison 15
Short ball from Harmison, Kaneria fences and Banger pouches the chance - at the third attempt. He parries the ball, falls on his back, feels the ball bounce off his knee and then clutches it to his stomach. Smiles all round.

1726: Iqbal takes on Monty and lofts him for four to midwicket. Kaneria then slogs Hamison back over his head to bring up the 500.

1720: Pakistan are quite happy just drifting along, adding the odd run here and there. You'd think it might be time for a declaration - the lead is 318, the weather's good and England are there to be popped at.

1712: Mahmood whistles one past Iqbal's nose and comes down the track for some chat. Iqbal politely tells him to take a long walk. Mahmood responds with another slice of bouncer pie, and the pair engage in further chat.

1705: Faisal Iqbal reaches his 50 with a cheeky single into the on-side, just after cracking Monty past point for four. England are looking pancake flat again.

1657: WICKET: Gul lbw bowled Panesar 13
Two balls after Gul smashes Monty high into the OCS stand for six, Monty finally gets a decision off Darrell Hair. There's probably been eight or nine appeals exactly like that during the Pakistan innings, none of which Hair has given.

1650: Gul flays a four over third slip off Mahmood, and the lead creeps up to 295. It's almost like these runs don't matter to the crowd - England are so far behind that overhauling Pakistan seems a task on par with an ant trying to scale the OCS stand.

1644: Another let-off for Pakistan - Gul is dropped by Collingwood in the gully off Mahmood. It was only a chance by Colly's standards - no-one else could have laid a hand on it.

1639: The sun is out, and there are shadows on the pitch. Pakistan celebrate with three more easy singles.

1631: Here we go again - the final session, and Umar Gul sees off the final ball of Mahmood's over with no problems. Will the weather hold in this final session? It's okay up above at the moment, although earlier on it was wetter than an otter's pocket.

TEA

1612: WICKET - Nazir caught Hoggard bowled Mahmood 17
With the penultimate ball before tea, Mahmood gets lucky as Nazir skies an attempted pull straight to Hoggard at mid-on. A silly wicket to give away - but with a lead of 271, there's no doubting who's on top.

1605: Monty twirls away but with limited success - both batsmen work him off their legs for easy singles. Time for one more over before tea.

1601: Nazir hoists Monty to long-on, only for Hoggard to spill a diving chance. That evens up the chance Monty dropped off Hoggard on Friday. Monty politely refuses to look angry.

1558: Harmison is like two bowlers in one - one of them has the aggression of a riled tiger, and the other the accuracy of a blind archer. Three of his deliveries in this over have fearsome written all over them, the other three "hit me".

1552: No maiden for Monty this time - Nazir boffs him for a four back over his head, and then clouts him for a six over mid-on. The lead goes over 250.

1545: It's Monty o'clock at The Oval, and the crowd couldn't be happier if free ice-creams were being given out. The P-Man serves up a maiden for starters.

1538: Iqbal slashes at Harmison and gets lucky with an edged four to third man. Pakistan are looking for quick runs now - there could be fireworks, albeit damp ones.

1530: Iqbal chances his arm against Mahmood, and takes a classy four behind point. Shahid Nazir clearly doesn't fancy facing Harmie. Hold on - Monty seems to be limbering up too...

1521: Theories abound as to how England have suddenly turned this around - the most interesting being the arrival of Gary Pratt as the substitute fielder. Ricky Ponting's nemesis may have had no direct involvement in the three wickets that have gone down, but it's all changed around since he trotted onto the outfield.

"You've got to take Pratt to Australia - of course you have." Jonathan Agnew, Test Match Special

1515: WICKET - Akmal caught Collingwood bowled Harmison 15
Harmie strikes again! Akmal jousts at a sizzler outside off-stump and Collingwood makes a very hard tumbling catch at third slip look simple.

1508: Harmison's a man transformed - he tortures Iqbal with some full-volume musique de chin, and the orchestra behind the stumps is loving it.

1503: It's all happening - with two of the boys back in the barracks, England are suddenly on the march again. Hoggard swings one past Kamran Akmal's outside edge and then winces as Akmal edges one through third slip.

1457: WICKET - Mohammad Yousuf caught Read bowled Hoggard 128
Wallop - now it's Hoggard's turn to get busy, and Yousuf is caught behind chasing an outswinger. After hours of toil, England have two wickets in two overs.

1455: Not sure who was more shocked by that wicket - Harmison or the sleepy crowd. Either way the big man's back in the pavillion, and in comes Faisal Iqbal.

1451: WICKET - Inzamam ct Strauss bowled Harmison 31
Kaboom - Harmison, who's being spraying it all over the place like a untethered hose, drops one short and Inzi fends it neck-high to Strauss.

1447: Hoggie induces an edge from Inzi, but it drops just short of Strauss at second slip. Yousuf then launches into a wide one and helps himself to another cover-driven four.

1442: Hold on to your hats - the sun is shining! And the players are out! And that's quite enough exclamation marks!

1420: Word from those in the know: we'll re-start at 1445 BST. Skies are increasingly blue over south London.

1403: Brollies still up, although there's blue sky visible over the OCS stand. Enough to make three or four merchant seamen a roomy pair of bell-bottom trousers each.

1348: So far, the players have gone off three times, a total of six on-offs. Anyone want to take a punt on the total on-offs we'll have by close of play? I'll lay down an early marker with 16 on-offs - or eight stoppages for rain in total.

RAIN STOPS PLAY

1343: Change of tactics here from Yousuf and Inzamam - they're launching big shots, obviously worried about the weather. Rightly so, too - big spots of rain splatter on Darrell Hair's shirt, and the umpire leads the players off once again.

1335: The dark clouds have blown away and the second session gets under way with Harmison bowling the final ball of his interrupted over. Hoggard then steams in from the Vauxhall End and a great ball just fails to find Yousuf's edge. Pakistan's lead stretches to 200.

1256: As Annie Lennox once sang, here comes the rain again. It's not falling on anyone's head like a hammer blow, though - more like a wet caress. Either way, it's enough for the umpires, and we're off again. That's lunch too.

1253: A nice outswinger from Hoggard induces Yousuf into a back foot flick, and the ball flies through the vacant third slip area. There was a man in exactly that position in the last over, although he would have to have had arms as long as Mr Tickle's to snag it.

1247: Harmie tries a bouncer at Inzi, who flicks it casually to the square leg boundary for four.

"I'm quite reliant on my wife for cooking. Her and a couple of local takeaways." Angus Fraser, Test Match Special

1241: The normally unflappable Yousuf swings and misses at a Harmison delivery. By England's standards that's a huge victory.

1235: Despite the cloud cover Hoggard is getting almost no swing. Inzi tickles a single and Pakistan lead by 181 runs.

1230: The players are back out bang on time. A quicker ball from Harmie surprises Inzamam - and everyone else - and the Pakistan skipper gloves it fine for four.

1203: Breaking news from Umpire Towers: play will resume at 1230 BST. That's assuming no more rain, of course.

1155: I'm sorry - that must have been someone's picnic I could smell. It certainly wasn't optimism - the covers are still on and the players still off.

1138: Out come the umpires for a quick gander at conditions. The rain has eased a little. You can smell a little optimism in the air.

1135: No sign of the players on the balconies. Wonder what they're all doing in there. You'd imagine the newspapers are being read, a few isotonic beverages are being sipped and a few minature bats signed with impenetrable squiggles. But you never know - Monty might be arm-wrestling Ian Bell while Duncan Fletcher tells a few risque jokes and Kevin Pietersen quietly gets on with his needlework.

1128: The covers are on and the stands are emptying as punters file off to the bars. It's not lashing it down - we're talking more a heavy mist. Not yet drizzle, but more than a light spray.

RAIN STOPS PLAY

1120: The rain gets a little heavier, and that's enough for Hair and Doctrove - they trudge off towards the pavillion, and the players follow.

1116: Better over from Harmison - including a big shout for lbw against Inzamam which Umpire Doctrove turns down. Clouds are coming our way - it's not looking good....

1112: Uh-oh - the brollies are going up already as Hoggard concedes only a no-ball off his over. Nothing monsoonesque, but precipitation nonetheless.

1106: First over of the day from Steve Harmison, and it's a gentle mixture of short balls down the leg side and off-side lollops. He looks like a club cricketer trying to do an impression of former Test scion Harmie - the arms and legs look familiar but the end result is completely different.

1100: We're off - Matthew Hoggard opens the bowling on a cloudy day. Inzamam watches the first three and then caresses the fourth through the covers for four. Inzamam's only on six but he already looks like he's watching the ball in slow motion.

1040: Inzamam and Yousuf looked in aggressive mood in the nets and appear determined to add to the home side's misery this morning.

0910: It is dry at the moment in south London, but there do seem to be lots of threatening clouds about. Let's see how we get on.

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