Anderson swings through Pakistan
England’s fast bowlers harnessed hostile conditions at Trent Bridge to run through Pakistan and take a vice-like grip on the first npower Test.
Pakistan simply could not come to grips with late, pronounced swing, especially from James Anderson, who celebrated his 28th birthday by collecting his ninth five-wicket haul in Test matches, and third at this ground.
When bad light arrived to stop play at 5.10pm, the tourists were 147 for nine and looking to the unlikely figure of Umar Gul to prevent them following on.
In that respect, England’s own headlong collapse to Mohammad Asif’s unerring away-swingers could yet have a bearing on the game, as Pakistan need only eight runs to take the decision out of Andrew Strauss’ hands.
England plunged vertiginously to 354 all out, but their score remained formidable. Indeed, the rate at which wickets tumbled – six for 23 runs in 13.1 overs – emphasised just how brilliant Paul Collingwood and Eoin Morgan’s innings of 82 and 130 were.
A rout looked on the cards when Pakistan lurched to 47 for six, though Shoaib Malik and Mohammad Aamer at least kept them away from their record low in England, 87 at Lord’s in 1954.
When Pakistan went out to bat earlier than anyone expected, they were on the receiving end of the swing that Asif had exploited so expertly.
Crucially for England, Anderson and Steven Finn did not need to be persuaded to pitch the ball up to trouble the outside edge.
There were two loud appeals by Stuart Broad, even before Salman Butt feathered Anderson behind in the fifth over.
Imran Farhat and Azhar Ali, playing reassuringly straight, managed to shepherd Pakistan to lunch without further loss.
Farhat had battled away for 51 balls before receiving a beauty from Anderson, which swung late, beat his outside edge and bowled him.
The luckless Broad was taken out of the attack following eight threatening overs, whereupon Finn imposed himself on proceedings.
Finn’s steep bounce told with his sixth ball, which rose on Umar Amin and flew to Graeme Swann at second slip.
Pakistan’s misguided use of the decision review system continued, sealing Azhar’s fate. Prodding at Anderson, he was given out caught behind, and consulted partner Umar Akmal to ponder a review.
Azhar eventually resolved to walk off, only for the 'snickometer', which cannot be used by the TV umpire in making his decision, to suggest he did not touch it after all.
Neither of the Akmal brothers could not stem the tide, both edging Finn to a grateful slip cordon.
The first flickers of resistance came from the seventh-wicket pair, who put on 58 together through tea by playing deadly straight.
Malik deserved better than his 38, but had no second chance when he provided Anderson’s fifth wicket by edging to Strauss, who did well to grope with one hand when he initially spilled the chance.
When Aamer followed at 108 the follow-on looked a near certainty. But the decision to turn on the beaming Trent Bridge floodlights coincided with Gul injecting much-needed spark into Pakistan’s innings.
The number nine, who hit the winning run against Australia at Headingley Carnegie last Saturday, unfurled an unlikely cover drive and an emphatic pull for six to make the issue of the follow-on pertinent.
Broad was finally rewarded when he shot through Danish Kaneria, but his dismissal prompted the sides to go off for the light. Forty minutes later play was abandoned for the day.
Collingwood and Morgan, so dominant yesterday, resumed hopeful of batting England to an impregnable position with their record stand, only to be knocked sideways by Asif’s imperious spell.
In six unchanged overs from the Radcliffe Road End, Asif claimed all four of his wickets lbw, each with a hint of beautifully commanded outswing.
Pakistan must have worried that Kamran Akmal’s blunders were spreading along the slip cordon when Farhat dropped a regulation catch off Morgan in the fifth over.
A distraught Aamer kicked the turf in frustration but, unlike Kamran, first slip’s error did not prove altogether costly.
Collingwood was denied the 11th Test hundred that his graft warranted. Having added one to his overnight 81, Asif’s long appeal for lbw was eventually answered by umpire Tony Hill.
Hill’s delay was understandable, as bat was also in the vicinity, but Collingwood’s unsuccessful review vindicated the umpire's decision by showing that ball hit pad first.
In doing so, Collingwood used up England’s second and final unsuccessful review of the innings. Collingwood could be allowed that indulgence; his fifth-wicket partnership of 219 will surely prove to be match-winning.
The exit of England’s centurion at 344 for six prompted the floodgates to open. Morgan had already been lucky to survive playing no shot to Asif, before one nipped back and hit the left-hander dead in front.
A mix-up between the wickets, refreshingly absent from England’s recent series, then unfolded.
Swann drove to deep midwicket, but Matt Prior hovered mid-pitch when considering a third run. Prior did not seem to hear an answer, and an alert Butt latched on to Aamer’s throw to run down the stumps.
Swann and Anderson were both struck hesitantly on the crease by consecutive deliveries to confirm England's demise. Finn barely saw out Asif’s hat-trick ball, poking short of second slip.
Asif was only denied a sixth victim when Gul cleaned up Broad with the first ball of the next over. Nonetheless, Asif's 5-77 was his seventh five-wicket haul in an interrupted Test career.