Pakistan debutant Wahab Riaz puts England on back foot
Third Test, The Oval (day one, stumps): England 233 v Pakistan 48-1 Match scorecard
Left-arm seamer Wahab Riaz was the star performer for an impressive Pakistan
By Oliver Brett
Pakistan took the honours on day one of the third Test against England despite a record eighth-wicket stand between Matt Prior and Stuart Broad.
Debutant left-arm seamer Wahab Riaz (5-63) helped reduce England to 94-7 before Prior (84 not out) and Broad (48) got the hosts up to 233.
Their 119-run stand broke a 48-year record for eighth-wicket partnerships for England against Pakistan.
In the evening session at The Oval the tourists replied with a measured 48-1.
Yasir Hameed, playing his first Test for nearly three years, hit some glorious drives through the covers to end the day unbeaten on 36 as Imran Farhat (11) played a quiet foil alongside him. Remarkably, the 48 runs they put on made it the highest opening stand of the series by either team - and it was ended only in the final over of the day when Farhat pushed forward defensively at James Anderson and edged onto his stumps.
Prior hails Stuart Broad's performance at the Oval
Nightwatchman Riaz got through the last three balls of the day, and England will want to oust him early on Thursday and get into the middle order if they are to regain the initiative in what could prove an absorbing match.
After a bright early morning in London, the clouds arrived just before captains Andrew Strauss and Salman Butt appeared for the toss.
But Strauss resisted the opportunity to give Pakistan's batting line-up another searching examination by swing, and went out to face the new ball himself alongside his out-of-touch opening partner Alastair Cook. Pakistan's side showed four changes from the team that lost at Edgbaston to trail 2-0 in the four-match series.
Injured duo Zulqarnain Haider and Umar Gul were replaced by Kamran Akmal and Riaz respectively, and there was a shake-up in the batting as Mohammad Yousuf made his long-awaited return to the line-up at the expense of Shoaib Malik and Hameed took Umar Amin's place. The man with an awesome 1,400 Test runs against England was listed to bat at four with Butt dropping to three and Hameed coming into the side to open.
Cook, who now faces being dropped for the Lord's Test if he makes another low score in the second innings, was the first man to fall in only the second over.
Mohammad Asif bowled a series of balls swinging in both directions, and though Cook coped well with those coming into him, the last one - which went away from him just a fraction - was edged to wicketkeeper Akmal.
Though the bowler deserved credit for the dismissal, Cook's technique again looked faulty, playing uncertainly at the ball with his bat well in front of his pad. England had not really weathered that hiccup when Strauss, attempting to end a run of 11 Tests without a century, stood rooted to the crease after Pakistan's appeal for another catch behind was declined by umpire Tony Hill.
Butt instantly called for the review, and Strauss was soon given his marching orders. If 35-2 looked shaky, then the whole foundations of England's innings were severely loosened - along with their ambitions of a seventh straight Test win and a 3-0 series lead - when three more wickets fell before lunch.
Riaz, a 25-year-old from Lahore with experience of the North Staffordshire league, had needed just nine deliveries to take his first Test wicket, that of Strauss. And he was soon celebrating another when Jonathan Trott shaped to play a cover-drive and nicked off to slip.
Mohammad Amir picked up the fourth wicket when Paul Collingwood got into a messy tangle and chopped a delivery onto his stumps, before Riaz removed Kevin Pietersen with an excellent delivery that left him just enough to catch his edge en route to Akmal.
England were a wretched 70-5 at lunch and the picture continued to look bleak afterwards.
Though there was no extreme movement, Pakistan's three seamers kept on getting deliveries to nibble around enough to create problems.
Eoin Morgan never settled and provided Riaz with his fourth wicket, and Akmal with a fourth catch. Graeme Swann hit one lovely boundary, but England needed more than cameos.
When Swann edged Asif into the slips Pakistan must have fancied their chances of finishing off England for less than 130 - which would have made it the hosts' lowest score against these opponents.
Instead, it was time for the Prior-Broad counter-offensive, featuring some scintillating straight drives from the right-handed wicketkeeper and some less textbook striking, but pretty effective work, from a partner whose batting had disappointed of late.
Pakistan's catching had been flawless until this point, but Prior was dropped by Akmal off an inside edge on 29, and that proved costly as the partnership produced more than half the runs of England's entire innings.
In sunnier weather that clearly aided the batsmen, the bowlers were flagging somewhat when Riaz's slower ball thudded into Broad's pads bang in front of his stumps after tea. By then the two batsmen had easily surpassed the 99 shared by Peter Parfitt and David Allen at Leeds in 1962.
Asif promptly picked up a third wicket (Anderson for a duck) before Prior ran out of partners when off-spinner Saeed Ajmal dismissed Steven Finn.
Mind you, Prior should have been caught one ball previously when Yousuf floored a simple opportunity in the covers. Though generally improved, Pakistan's catching still needs plenty of work.
The decision to hand opening duties back to Hameed proved an inspired one, however. Apart from one or two streaky shots over or wide of the slips early on, he was an effective enforcer with the bat, and played some attractive shots too.
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