It’s all even-steven at Headingley with Pakistan going past the English total of 515 by just 23 runs and the fate of this Test Match now hanging on the result of the second innings of both the sides. Both teams can actually forget about the first three days of this Test Match as England’s second innings total plus the one run will be the target for Pakistan considering that the 23-run lead is a negligible one on this pitch and the homeside are 3/0 after having to face 2 overs before stumps on Day 3. It was largely Pakistan’s day with Mohammad Yousuf and Younis Khan plundering the bowlers all over the park. The pair had batted for almost half of the day’s play to take their partnership to an epic 363. Both the Y’s missed out in completing their double hundreds and a flurry of wickets just before the Tea Break got the life back in the Test Match. As many as 339 runs were scored in today’s play at the loss of 8 wickets.
Pakistan began the third day’s play at a solid 202 for 2 and they were up against an older and softer ball which was hardly doing anything off the wicket or in the air. Mohammad Yousuf and Younis Khan continued from where they had left in the previous day and it looked clear that England will have a long wait to break this partnership. It was because both batsmen were professional enough to cash in on the perfect batting conditions and their form to get the big scores. Mohammad Yousuf who resumed on 91 today got to his 18th Test Match hundred quite early in the day and Younis Khan got his after the drinks break. England took the second new ball in the 81st over and that was the only way they could make inroads in the Pakistani batting. Steve Harmison produced some uncomfortable moments with his rising deliveries to Mohammad Yousuf, but the track wasn’t quick enough to be dangerous. Pakistan went safely to lunch at 331 for 2 with 129 scored in the 31 overs bowled this morning. Mohammad Yousuf had taken his score to 160 and Younis Khan was on 122.
After lunch, Steve Harmison got the much needed breakthrough by bowling a short one onto Yousuf’s body and even though the batsman was on 192, it was tough to handle that delivery and he gloved it to the wicket keeper down the legside. England finally got the breakthrough after a long wait of almost 84 overs! Mohammad Yousuf’s 192 had come in just 265 balls with 25 fours and two sixes. Inzamam joined Younis and showed his intentions of going for the quick runs, but somehow couldn’t sustain that and England bowled a few tight overs to pull the run rate down. It was in the 113th over that the Test match looked to have got a twist with Younis Khan run out by a direct throw from Sajid Mahmood to end his innings at 173. Younis had played 285 balls for that and his innings was studded with 22 boundaries. The very next ball after Younis’ wicket, Faisal Iqbal got struck low on his pads in his backfoot defence to Paul Collingwood’s inswinger and all of a sudden England were pumped up. Incidentally Faisal Iqbal became the first scalp for Paul Collingwood in Test Cricket. In the very next over, which was bowled by Monty Panesar, came the moment of this season with Inzamam falling over his own stumps! The Pakistani Skipper got onto his knee to play the sweep and couldn’t connect that and in his follow through lost his balance and his big body fell over the innocent stumps. Inzamam got out for a 52-ball 26 and his innings had started off in a terrific fashion by pulling and cutting Harmison’s quick and short deliveries. It was Tea with the fall of Inzy’s wicket and Pakistan had lost three wickets for 4 runs in the space of nine deliveries and the score was 451 for 6 with just Kamran Akmal being the lone recognized batsmen.
After Tea, Kamran Akmal (20) couldn’t break free and he went for a rash cut shot off Sajid Mahmood to nick it behind to first slip to leave Pakistan 57 runs short of England’s 515. The tail wagged for an appreciable amount of time with Shahid Nazir holding up one end with his solid defence. The last three wickets for Pakistan put on a crucial 57 runs to help Pakistan get ahead of England. Danish Kaneria by taking a few chances got to a new career highest score of 29. England bowlers had to bowl almost 142 overs in this innings and Monty Panesar bowled 47.4 overs out of that taking 3 wickets. Steve Harmison, Sajid Mahmood and Monty Panesar conceded more than hundred runs in their bowling. England got to bat two overs before the scheduled close and they did it without losing a wicket although Trescothick played a touch nervously in the 1st over from Sami.
So the Test match is interestingly poised and it can head towards a draw or a win for anyone. If England get off to a good start, then the pressure would be on Pakistan to save the series from being sealed 2-0 and their batting could crumble under pressure as seen at Old Trafford. The pitch has remained good for the batsmen and it is the swing bowlers who can be effective in these conditions, but there hasn’t been a bowler who has perfectly exploited the conditions.