England clinched the honours on Day 1 of the first Test match against Pakistan at Lord’s with centuries coming from Alastair Cook and Paul Collingwood. The homeside were rescued from a spot of bother by Cook (101*) and Collingwood (109*), who are still unseparated after having put on 221 for the 4th wicket. It would go down as one of the miserable days in the history of Pakistan Cricket with the fielders dropping elementary sitters. England have closed the day’s play at 309 for 3, the only aspect that was impressive from Pakistan was its over rate which ensured that the 90 overs were bowled well in time.
The Tale of the Morning Session
Andrew Strauss had won the toss and he decided to bat first with the track looking good for the batsmen but there was always the cloud cover that would encourage the ball to move around. Matthew Hoggard managed to pass the fitness Test and was included in the side in the place of Sajid Mahmood. Pakistan lost Shoaib Malik (elbow), Younis Khan (knee) and Mohammad Asif (elbow) due to their injuries and that got back Salman Butt, Faisal Iqbal and Shahid Afridi into the line up. Mohammad Sami and Umar Gul started off the proceedings for Pakistan and they were taken for plenty of runs by Trescothick and Strauss. The two fast bowlers struggled to cope up with the extravagant movement and Inzamam was forced to bring in Abdul Razzaq early into the attack. Trescothick however spoilt England’s good start of 60/0 by poking at an away going seamer from Umar Gul. Trescothick fell for 16 and soon after six balls, Andrew Strauss followed him in the pavilion after getting struck on his pads in front of the stumps by Abdul Razzaq. That looked like a straight forward decision for Simon Taufel but TV Replays later showed that Strauss had got a tiny little edge onto his pads, no one was complaining about that decision and Strauss’ promising innings had come to an end for a personal score of 30. The attacking Kevin Pietersen joined Cook and the big man was firing the Pakistani bowlers with four boundaries. Abdul Razzaq soon sent the dangerous man back to the pavilion as Pietersen made a mistake of not reading Razzaq’s inswinger and he had offered his pads to that. Pietersen fell for a run-a-ball 21 and England lost the initiative with a score of 88 for 3. Collingwood then paired up with Cook to ensure that England went to lunch with just those 3 wickets down, they had put on 118 on the board in the first session. Alastair Cook was lucky to stay in the middle on 22 as he was dropped by Imran Farhat, the 2nd slip fielder who dived in front of 1st slip Inzamam-ul-Haq to spoil what would have been a regulation catch off Umar Gul.
The Tale of the Afternoon Session
After lunch, England made merry with the ball starting to lose its shine and allowing the 4th wicket partnership to blossom. Pakistan operated with Danish Kaneria from one end and the seamers at the other end. Collingwood was looking to play some shots especially the pull which was used to good effect. Pakistan had heartbreak when Alastair Cook was not given caught behind by Steve Bucknor when the left hander had nicked the wrong one from Danish Kaneria. Cook was on 43 then and after adding up just two more runs, he was dropped by the bowler Kaneria, who couldn’t hold onto an easy return catch after beating the batsman in the air. Both batsmen carried on with their innings and were in no mood to give away their wickets with rash shots and that saw them bat through the post lunch session. England went to Tea at a strong position of 242 for 3 with Cook on 68 and Collingwood on 77.
The Tale of the Final Session
The Post Tea Session saw Pakistan stifling the run rate of England and Cook, Collingwood were completely bogged down. Pakistan got some reverse swing going finally and Umar Gul produced an outside edge off Collingwood who was on 79 but the wicket keeper Kamran Akmal spilled an elementary catch. Just few overs after that, Imran Farhat dropped his second catch in the slips and once again Alastair Cook was the lucky cat to escape and this time he was on 81 with the bowler being the below par Mohammad Sami. Meanwhile Paul Collingwood got to his 2nd Test Match century with a push off Kaneria for a single to square leg. Collingwood got to his hundred in 157 balls with the help of 12 fours and Alastair Cook at the other end was anxiously waiting to get to his 2nd Test ton. Cook finally got to his hundred in the last ball of the 89th over bowled by Shahid Afridi. Cook had to work hard to get his runs as he was mostly hitting his shots straight to the fielders and he was very lucky to get to a hundred as he was dropped twice and had a let off from the Umpire. But credit should go for the young Alastair Cook for staying there and taking England out of a bad position. Pakistan hasn’t gone in for the 2nd new ball yet and they are in trouble of being on the backfoot in the rest of this Test Match. England finished at 309 for 3 with just 67 runs coming in the 31 overs bowled in the final session but the important thing is that they did not lose any wicket for two full sessions!