Pakistan in charge despite Swann milestone

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The Independent Online

Graeme Swann enjoyed a double success on day two of the third npower Test against Pakistan, celebrating his belated nomination for ICC Cricketer of the Year with his 100th Test wicket.

Swann was left off the long list for the prestigious award yesterday but subsequently added after the selection panel confessed a "genuine oversight" had been made.

He proved himself worthy of the nod by picking up four wickets as a disciplined England kept the tourists to 308 in reply to their modest 233 at the Brit Insurance Oval.

Skipper Andrew Strauss was out for four before the close, with his side six for one, 69 behind.

Swann removed the dangerous Mohammad Yousuf to bring up the milestone in his 23rd Test, the same number of matches as fellow spinners Shane Warne, Saqlain Mushtaq and Danish Kaneria.

Derek Underwood and Steve Harmison also took 23 matches, but Ian Botham is England's quickest post-war bowler to the mark, taking just 19 games.

Steven Finn drew first blood for England with the second ball of the day, finding Yasir Hameed's outside edge and presenting Matt Prior with a simple catch.

Prior's 84 not out yesterday kept England afloat after their top order failed and Pakistan were looking for someone to play a similar role.

Captain Salman Butt was not that man, almost falling for a duck as he flashed between slip and gully and then being put down at backward point by Eoin Morgan.

With nine overs gone Strauss turned to spin and Swann duly removed Butt (17) with a short second ball that caught the edge and was collected by Prior at the third attempt.

Nightwatchman Wahab Riaz was still in place at the other end and was joined by veteran Yousuf, back in the side after reversing his retirement, at 76 for three.

Yousuf was lucky not to snick a pair of beauties from Anderson and looked intent on occupying the crease rather than getting after the bowling.

Pakistan squeezed past the 100 mark with a Riaz single off Finn and Yousuf finally found his groove with a punched four through square leg.

Riaz frustrated England for 75 balls before going for 27, Swann picking up a leg-before verdict that was unwisely referred by the batsman.

Yousuf was beginning to look at ease though, with Azhar Ali taking his lead to push the run-rate along.

England found little to trouble Yousuf in the hour after lunch as the former captain showed a temperament sorely lacking in his compatriots for most of the summer.

Azhar, meanwhile, was happy to offer solid support.

Yousuf took Finn for successive fours, through cover and third man, to move to 49 and dashed a single to reach his half-century.

The signs were ominous that the 35-year-old was setting himself for a 25th Test hundred when Swann tossed one up and safely pouched a return catch.

It was a fitting 100th victim for the irrepressible Swann, who tossed the ball high in the air as Yousuf trudged off for 56.

Umar Akmal heaved the spinner for six just before tea as Pakistan closed in on England's total.

Then, having taken his side into the lead with a cut for four off Paul Collingwood, he was run out for 38 by Morgan after losing his footing.

The elder Akmal, wicketkeeper Kamran, made just 10 before spraying Stuart Broad straight to Morgan, who this time held the chance.

Azhar crept to a second Test fifty, and past his previous best of 51, but needed desperately for someone to hang around with him.

Mohammad Aamer (six) and Saeed Ajmal (nought) could not, quickly removed by Broad and Anderson respectively.

Last man Mohammad Asif should have followed for four but Strauss dropped him at first slip off Finn.

The final pair added 36 before Swann picked up a fourth wicket, leaving Azhar 92 not out.

England were left with a nervy spell before stumps and though all eyes were on the out-of-sorts Alastair Cook, it was Strauss who was undone as he fended Aamer to Hameed in the slips.

Cook faced just two balls and will resume his quest for much-needed runs in the morning.