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England on backfoot as Pakistan seek a win at the Oval.

613   //    21 Aug 2010, 07:20 IST

The third day of the third test match at the Oval began with England trailing by 69 runs and all eyes were on Alastair Cook as he and James Anderson walked out on a cloudy morning. The opener has been under fire for failing miserably in recent times and has been anything but solid all through the summer. Cook’s frailties against a quality pace attack has been exposed on more than one occasions. With a string of poor scores in the past five innings, Cook’s place looked in serious jeopardy as England seek their defense for the Ashes later this year.

The opener started positively for probably the first time this summer and after the fall of James Anderson laid a strong foundation with James Trott. Cook was particularly harsh on debutant Wahab Riaz and the bowler did himself no favour by spraying the ball around. He raced to a half century and England looked set for a commanding lead.

Cook completed a well deserved century, his 13th overall  before he was dismissed by Riaz for 110. His 110 exceeded his total from eight previous Test innings on home soil this summer. With a gutsy knock Cook ensured his test future which looked to be in serious doubt after a barren run. Trott and Pietersen combined well to swell England’s lead past 100 at tea.

The post-tea session was a different match altogether as Pakistan produced one of the more remarkable fightback in recent times. Pietersen fell to the guile of Ajmal who bowled a gem to deceive the batsman. Mohammad Amir then came back and jolted the middle order with two telling blows. He along with Ajmal ripped the England batting line up as six wickets fell for 26 runs. Pakistan’s ability to bounce back from precarious situations make them arguably the most exciting team. They are without doubt cricket’s most volatile band of boys.

Despite all the political turmoil and lack of international cricket, Pakistan’s ability to field a world class pace bowling line up is all the more compelling. Wahab Riaz who came for the injured Umar Gul had a dream debut as he ripped through the England line up picking five wickets in the process. Mohammad Amir who has been drawing comparisons with Wasim Akram ever since he made his debut has been bowling with superb rhythm all through summer. Along with Asif these two make a potent opening bowling attack. Add to this the guile of  Ajmal and here is a world class bowling attack. For long Ajmal waited to be picked only to be denied by the under performing Kaneria. He has so far made the most of this opportunity with wickets as well as runs to add to his credentials.

With a lead of 146 runs and a wicket left Pakistan should fancy beating England on the fourth day unless something extraordinary happen which is always associated with Pakistan.

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