England's supporters may not yet appreciate it but by being bowled out for 345 in their second innings here yesterday evening Andrew Strauss' side have given themselves the best chance of wrapping up this series before next week's final Test at the Oval. Declarations in tight situations, and the cautious nature of at least one of the teams, tend to kill games rather than open them up, and England's late collapse against a fired-up Pakistan has ensured that the final day of the third Test should be full of intrigue.
If Pakistan are to level the series, they need to score a further 323 runs after reaching 0 for 0 in a solitary over from Matthew Hoggard. A Pakistan victory is not impossible but an England win or the draw remain the likeliest results. If Pakistan are to draw level they will need to post the second-highest successful run chase at Headingley. "The Invincibles", Donald Bradman's Australian side, scored 404 for 3 to win here in 1948, and the only other team to pass 300 batting last and walk off as victors were England in 2001, when Mark Butcher scored an unbeaten 173.
England will not want to be on the wrong end of a historic last day. The 1948 match achieved the highest Test aggregate in England: 1,723. So if, for instance, Pakistan hit a four to achieve victory with the scores level - at 1,720 - they would surpass the Invincibles' mark set on the same ground in 1948. Should England be defeated they will become the ninth team in Test cricket to have scored over 500 in the first innings of a game, only to end up as losers.
England's position would have been far more perilous but for a superb century from Andrew Strauss and a pugnacious 55 from Chris Read. Strauss' hundred, the 10th of his Test career, seemed to have guided England to safety but the loss of nine wickets for 155 in 41 overs ended the composure in the home dressing-room.
England's wickets were shared by Pakistan's bowlers but Shahid Nazir, with 3 for 32, was the pick of their attack. England's seamers will take encouragement from the odd ball misbehaving but they must bowl with far greater discipline than in the first innings if they are to make the most of any inconsistent bounce.
Discipline was a commodity that Strauss showed in abundance during his four hours at the crease. The England captain led by example, showing concentration and class during his 116. But we already know how well he can play, and when he was dismissed on the stroke of tea England, on 237 for 4, were comfortably placed.
Strauss may have laid England's foundations but it was Read's sparky and intelligent half-century that ensured Pakistan face a very challenging run chase. Read knew that his batting would come under scrutiny here - it was the reason why he was picked ahead of Geraint Jones - and scores of of 38 and 55 are proof that this part of his game has improved since he last played for England in 2004.
When play began, England, still trailing by 20 runs, were under pressure but Strauss and Marcus Trescothick provided the team with the perfect start. Trescothick rode his luck - he was dropped twice by Kamran Akmal, the Pakistan wicketkeeper, before he had reached double figures - but runs came quickly.
Strauss, meanwhile, was looking in fine form. His foot movement was precise and confident, and he collected runs in his favourite area - square of the wicket. He, too, had a piece of good fortune when, on 29, he survived an adjacent lbw appeal from Danish Kaneria.
The umpire Billy Doctrove, predictably, turned down the appeal. Doctrove has given very little in the match, even though several shouts have merited a raised finger. Paul Collingwood benefited from his generosity, too, when he padded up to a Kaneria googly that would have gone on to hit middle stump. If decisions like these are not given, cricket may as well replace bowlers with a bowling machine and let batsmen fill their boots. Doctrove obviously feels by uttering "not out" he is reducing the number of errors he could possibly make, but if he carries on like this his officiating should stretch no further than first-class cricket in the Caribbean.
Trescothick began to find his form and he and Strauss shared an eighth century stand. His half-century came when he lifted Kaneria over midwicket for four. The shot took him past Denis Compton's Test run tally of 5,807, and into 11th place in England's all-time list.
A rib injury kept Inzamam-ul-Haq off the field for all but an hour yet he is expected to be fit to bat today. His presence with the willow will be vital to Pakistan's cause but the vibrant, attacking approach of Younis Khan meant his captaincy was not missed.
It is hard to believe Inzamam would have kept a second slip with England on 158 for 0 but this is where Trescothick was caught when he bottom-edged a cut at Umar Gul. Salman Butt snapped up the low, sharp chance and the wicket kicked Pakistan in to action.
Alastair Cook struck a couple of pleasant boundaries but never looked comfortable and it came as no surprise when Kaneria had him caught at short-leg. In came Kevin Pietersen, to the delight of a disappointing crowd of 7,000 to 8,000, and he made his intentions clear by slog-sweeping Kaneria twice over the leg side for four. But his desire to dominate cost him his wicket when he misread a Kaneria googly and was bowled.
Strauss, who reached his hundred when he cut Sami for four, would not yet have been panicking but his demise, and that of Ian Bell, who were each caught by Akmal off the bowling of Sami, completely changed the nature of the day. England's 190 for 1 had suddenly degenerated to 248 for 5 - a lead of 225 - and an inadequate target had become a genuine possibility.
Collingwood and Read settled England's nerves, and, with Younis continuing to set attacking fields, the pair opted to be positive. The fifty partnership was brought up before Collingwood chopped Nazir on to his off stump. Sajid Mahmood followed three balls later when a weak waft at the same bowler was caught by the wickekeeper. Hoggard kept Read company while he passed his previous highest Test score of 38, but the second new ball ended their fun. Harmison drove carelessly to mid-on and Read left Panesar stranded when he chopped Sami on to his stumps.
Prolific Strauss joins élite list
* Most frequent 100s as a percentage of Test innings (Qualification: 10 centuries)
D G Bradman (Aus)
G A Headley (West Indies)
C L Walcott (West Indies)
H Sutcliffe (England)
E D Weekes (West Indies)
A J Strauss (England)
Scoreboard from Headingley
England won the toss
England - First Innings 515
Pakistan - First Innings 538
England - Second Innings
M E Trescothick c Salman Butt b Umar Gul 58
165 min, 126 balls, 8 fours, 1 six
*A J Strauss c Kam ran Akmal b Mohammad Sami 116
249 min, 171 balls, 16 fours
A N Cook c Faisal Iqbal b Danish Kaneria 21
38 min, 34 balls, 3 fours
K P Pietersen b Danish Kaneria 16
17 min, 15 balls, 3 fours
P D Collingwood b Shahid Nazir 25
83 min, 57 balls, 3 fours
I R Bell c Kamran Akmal b Mohammad Sami 4
7 min, 5 balls, 1 four
ÝC M W Read b Mohammad Sami 55
128 min, 84 balls, 6 fours, 1 five, 1 six
S I Mahmood c Kamran Akmal b Shahid Nazir 2
2 min, 3 balls
M J Hoggard c Younis Khan b Shahid Nazir 8
31 min, 30 balls, 1 four
S J Harmison c sub (Imran Farhat) b Umar Gul 4
16 min, 9 balls, 1 four
M S Panesar not out 5
23 min, 16 balls, 1 four
Extras (b8, lb3, w1, nb19, pens0) 31
Total (385 min, 88.3 overs) 345
Fall: 1-158 (Trescothick), 2-190 (Cook), 3-214 (Pietersen), 4-237 (Strauss), 5-248 (Bell), 6-299 (Collingwood), 7-301 (Mahmood), 8-323 (Hoggard), 9-332 (Harmison), 10-345 (Read).
Bowling: Mohammad Sami 21.3-4-100-3 (nb7) (8-2-46-0 11-1-50-2 2.3-1-4-1), Umar Gul 20-1-76-2 (nb9,w1) (6-1-24-0 10-0-39-1 4-0-13-1), Shahid Nazir 14-4-32-3 (nb1) (1-1-0-0 7-3-11-0 6-0-21-3), Danish Kaneria 33-2-126-2 (nb2) (one spell).
Progress: Third day close: 3-0 (Trescothick 0, Strauss 3) 2 overs. Fourth day: 50: 48 min, 10.2 overs. 100: 98 min, 22 overs. Lunch 121-0 (Trescothick 54, Strauss 54) 30 overs. 150: 155 min, 36.2 overs. 200: 212 min, 49.1 overs. Tea 237-4 (Collingwood 4) 58.3 overs. 250: 259 min, 60.4 overs. 300: 311 min, 72.3 overs. New ball: taken after 80.2 overs at 323-7. Innings closed: 6.17pm.
Trescothick 50: 112 min, 88 balls, 8 fours, 1 six. Strauss 50: 109 min, 68 balls, 6 fours; 100: 229 min, 153 balls, 13 fours. Read 50: 116 min, 78 balls, 6 fours, 1 five, 1 six.
Pakistan - Second Innings
Salman Butt not out 0
4 min, 6 balls
Taufeeq Umar not out 0
4 min, 0 balls
Extras (b 0, lb 0, w 0, nb 0, pens 0) 0
Total (0 wkt, 0 min, 1 over) 0
Bowling: Hoggard 1-1-0-0.
Umpires: B R Doctrove (WI) and D B Hair (Aus).
TV replay umpire: N J Llong (Eng).
Match referee: R S Madugalle (SL).Reuse content