Yousuf's blend of silk and steel blunts England

Masterful hundred from one of the world's leading craftsmen threatens to wrest the initiative as bowlers find tourists at their indomitable best

At the start of this summer and their long year of hard labour England were furious to draw a match at Lord's they should have won. Their mood might veer more towards singing and dancing on the dressing-room tables if they achieve a similar result against Pakistan in the First Test of the season's second series.

Should they somehow orchestrate a win with four bowlers by taking 13 more wickets, they will reel off an entire musical or two. It may not happen on a lovely pitch designed to keep bowlers honest but England have been in so many thrillers these past few years that anything can be ruled in and nothing can be ruled out.

Pakistan batted throughout the third day for the loss of four more wickets yesterday while they added 341 runs to end up 120 behind. Mohammad Yousuf survived the entire day with nary a scare. He was unbeaten on 185 at the close, all runs exactly placed and delightfully stroked in a minute under seven hours from 287 balls, 24 of which he hit for four, one for six. Last time out against England he made 223. He is every bit as much of a handful as he was before he converted to Islam and changed his name from Yousuf Youhana.

For all that, the tourists, always going along at a fair lick, were never quite dominant and the loss of the last wicket of the day, the seventh in all, with three overs left was highly inconvenient. It fell to Kevin Pietersen, giving him his first Test wicket with one that brushed the edge of Kamran Akmal's bat.

England, with a decent total to defend but with depleted resources, did well enough. Several more wickets would have been acceptable but were always unlikely.

One thing they must avoid doing, however, is to complain about their injury list. It may be long but Pakistan are without five first-choice players, including four who are on the current tour, and their three leading pace bowlers. It has evened itself up. These things have a tendency to do so.

Throughout the morning and the early afternoon it was possible to imagine the tourists overhauling England's total and pushing onwards to establish a position from which they could win. It was necessary to investigate that two higher first-innings totals had been posted in a losing cause.

If the first has disappeared in the mists of time (A E Stoddart's England tourists won after conceding 586, all of 113 years ago), the second was recent enough to send shivers down Andrew Strauss's spine. Australia made 556 against India in Adelaide two years back and lost.

The way Yousuf and Inzamam-ul-Haq batted, anything seemed possible. They were at home as soon as they took to the crease and while Inzamam always gives the air of a man who is batting in slippers from an armchair, Yousuf was barely less cosy. They had, in equal abundance, time and timing.

England bowled smartly enough but it must have been difficult for Strauss to envisage how a wicket might fall after Marcus Trescothick, at full stretch in the slips, could not cling on to a blistering flash from Inzamam when he was 17.

The nightwatchman, Mohammad Sami, had obliged by departing early, nicking Matthew Hoggard to Geraint Jones. The catch took Jones ahead of Jim Parks in the all-time list of England keepers with 113 victims. There has been the usual gossip about the position of wicketkeeper-batsman and Jones' fitness for it after another failure with the bat here.

Around the water coolers of England it must be the fallback conversation given, say, a quiet day on the Prescott front and the imminent termination of The West Wing. It is wasted chat. Jones has had the job for 30 matches and he is keeping it.

The fifth-wicket pair vied for who was more precise in terms of placement. Inzamam probably edged it. He went to 50 in his usual nonchalant way, the eighth time in succession he has made at least a half-century against England.

Yousuf is not much less irritating to them. He reached his 17th Test hundred in all, his third against England and his first in this country with a square push for four off Paul Collingwood's first ball.

It had seemed to be an odd bowling change to make with a man in the nineties, but England's options were hardly boundless. The three seamers all took wickets. The one spinner, Monty Panesar, did not.

Panesar has performed hearteningly for England, and in action and one-dimensional skill is a real throwback. But it was hard for him, part of his learning curve on the Lord's slope. He was more effective over the wicket than round most of the time and though he was never carted, he was never threatening.

The big surprise of the day was that Inzamam got out when and how he did. Utterly untroubled, he was bowled round his legs by Liam Plunkett as he went too far across and found the ball slipping inexorably down the slope towards leg stump.

It might have been a clever piece of bowling because Inzamam had gone across his stumps to the ball before and exposed leg and middle. Good for Plunkett in spotting that gap.

The rest of the proceedings were geared to England sticking to their plan. With Yousuf ensconced it was still necessary to try to keep the gunslingers at the other end quiet. Abdul Razzaq, Kamran Akmal and above all Shahid Afridi tend to shoot from the hip.

Razzaq was gagged and bound by his standards before he nicked the second new ball behind (Jones moving up to 114). Akmal, the wicketkeeper-batsman de nos jours, started at his usual fearless lick. At 26, he was put down by Pietersen at cover.

It was straight, low and hard. Missable then, but it may have crossed Pietersen's mind that when Akmal last batted with against England he shared a partnership of 269. It was typical of Pietersen that, given the opportunity to bowl, he tricked Akmal by bowling two huge off-spinners followed by one which went straight on.

NPOWER TEST SCOREBOARD

England won toss

England - First Innings 528-9 dec

(P D Collingwood 186, A N Cook 105, I R Bell 100*)

Pakistan - First Innings

(Overnight 66-3)

Mohammad Yousuf not out 185

(419 min, 287 balls, 24 fours, 1 six)

Mohammad Sami c Jones b Hoggard 0

(Squared up on back foot, routine edge to keeper; 14 min, 12 balls)

*Inzamam-ul-Haq b Plunkett 69

(Bowled behind legs trying to work ball on to leg-side; 177 min, 115 balls, 10 fours)

Abdul Razzaq c Jones b Harmison 21

(Squared up on back foot by lifting ball; 77 min, 69 balls, 1 four)

ÝKamran Akmal c Jones b Pietersen 58

(Thin edge attempting to dab ball down to third man; 101 min, 82 balls, 8 fours)

Shahid Afridi not out 0

(10 min, 7 balls)

Extras (b7 lb13 w7 nb5) 32

Total (7 wkts, 464 min, 109 overs) 409

Fall (contd): 4-68 (Mohammad Sami), 5-241 (Inzamam-ul-Haq), 6-300(Abdul Razzaq), 7-399 (Kamran Akmal).

To bat: Umar Gul, Danish Kaneria.

Bowling: Hoggard 28-2-100-1 (nb5,w1) (7-1-27-0 6-0-20-1 3-0-7-0 4-0-11-0 4-1-14-0 4-0-21-0), Harmison 24-5-76-3 (7-2-14-2 1-0-1-0 5-1-23-0 5-0-25-0 6-2-13-1), Panesar 27-3-93-0 (2-0-10-0 1-0-1-0 11-0-39-0 9-3-26-0 4-0-17-0), Plunkett 21-3-78-2 (w4) (2-0-14-1 6-1-17-0 6-2-19-1 3-0-16-0 4-0-12-0), Collingwood 7-1-31-0 (w2) (2-0-19-0 3-1-4-0 2-0-8-0), Pietersen 2-0-11-1 (one spell).

Progress, third day: 100 in 137 min, 29.3 overs. 150 in 182 min, 40.4 overs. Lunch 165-4 (Mohammad Yousuf 66, Inzamam-ul-Haq 44) 48 overs. 200 in 243 min, 57 overs. 250 in 298 min, 69.1 overs. Tea 291-5 (Mohammad Yousuf 132, Abdul Razzaq 21) 79 overs. New ball taken after 80.2 overs at 291-5. 300 in 348 min, 83 overs. 350 in 405 min, 94.4 overs. 400 in 458 min, 107.2 overs.

Mohammad Yousuf: 50 in 123 min, 79 balls, 8 fours; 100 in 209 min, 157 balls, 15 fours; 150 in 358 min, 244 balls, 20 fours, 1 six.

Inzamam-ul-Haq: 50 in 128 min, 89 balls, 7 fours.

Kamran Akmal: 50 in 84 min, 69 balls, 7 fours.

Umpires: S A Bucknor (WI) and S J A Taufel (Aus).

Third Umpire: P J Hartley (Eng). Match referee: R J Madugalle (Sri Lanka).

Test Series: Second Test: 27-31 July, Old Trafford; Third Test: 4-8 August, Headingley; Fourth Test: 17-21 August, The Oval.

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