Kevin Pietersen’s blazing hundred put England in a supreme position at Stumps on Day 1 of the 3rd Test Match against Pakistan at Headingley. Pietersen wasn’t in the middle for England as they closed the day’s play at 347 for 6 as the dominating batsman had retired hurt during the course of his innings and in his absence, the Ian Bell has kept the innings going for the homeside. The good news for England is that Kevin Pietersen, who has recovered from cramps in his fore arm will join Ian Bell (66 not out) tomorrow morning. Pakistan looked good in patches and were hard done by some of the umpiring decisions that should have gone their way. In the end, it was a mixture of luck and good batting that had got England into this position.
Tale of the Morning Session : Pakistani Seamers put up an impressive show
Pakistan made an impressive start by reducing England to 110 for 3 at Lunch. Andrew Strauss had won the toss and had decided to bat first under overcast conditions. The only change in the English Side was known few days back with Chris Read snatching the gloves away from Geraint Jones. The tourists made three changes leaving out the injured Imran Farhat and all rounders Shahid Afridi and Abdul Razzaq. Taufeeq Umar and Salman Butt, the two opening batsmen have been included along with pace bowler Shahid Nazir who is playing a Test Match after seven long years. And it was Shahid Nazir, who was the pick of the bowlers in the morning session, bowling at a probing line around off stump. Nazir took the wicket of Andrew Strauss in his 8 overs spell forcing the English Captain to nick his delivery that landed perfectly on the seam. It was Mohammad Sami who had produced the first breakthrough for Pakistan removing Trescothick through a soft dismissal. Trescothick looking to drive Sami on the up didn’t get into a good position and it was a pat back to the bowler who took it in the second attempt. Just at the stroke of the lunch break, Umar Gul had dismissed Alastair Cook after the batsman was early in his drive on the up. Pakistan would have been in a much better position but for the two umpiring decisions. Kevin Pietersen was the not out batsman, who is fighting hard to survive some good seam bowling and he has taken his score to 17. Andrew Strauss was the top scorer with a strokeful 36 and Trescothick gave glimpses of getting back his form in his 28.
Tale of the Afternoon Session : Pietersen, Collingwood consolidate for England
Kevin Pietersen and Paul Collingwood settled down after lunch and their partnership got along well with Pakistanis making some tactical errors in not getting their best bowler of the day – Shahid Nazir straightaway into the attack. The bowlers were either too full or too short and that had got the partnership rolling and it looked as if Pietersen and Collingwood would take England safely to Tea without losing a single wicket in the session. But it was Paul Collingwood, who had perished playing a hook shot straight to the man at deep square leg off Umar Gul, whom he had pulled in the previous delivery for a boundary. Paul Collingwood’s innings came at an end with England at 192 for 4, ending the 82 runs partnership and at a personal score of 31. England went to Tea losing just the wicket of Collingwood and they had collected 114 runs at an impressive run rate of over 4.00. Pietersen was on 82 and was in no mood to throw it away and his eyes were on for a big hundred. Ian Bell looked solid on 9 and he is in tremendous form with two hundreds in this series. England at Tea were 224 for 4 in 54 overs and Pakistan still had a chance of coming back strongly after the break with a couple of wickets, but they needed Pietersen’s wicket very badly.
Tale of the Final Session : Ian Bell, Chris Read make Pak suffer
Kevin Pietersen got to his 5th Test Match hundred but had to soon leave to the dressing room after suffering from cramps in the 62nd over. He was on 104 and England were at 259 for 4 and Chris Read had to come and show his batting potential to a packed house at Headingley. The start was a shaky one with Read getting off the mark in a streaky fashion through an inside edge for a boundary, but he got over his nerves to play some attacking shots. Ian Bell was rock solid at the other end and both batsmen continued the good work done by Kevin Pietersen. Pakistan had to even bring in Taufeeq Umar and Salman Butt to bowl their lollipop off breaks as they had no option but to wait for the second new ball. It was the second new ball that did the trick for Pakistan with Umar Gul getting one to nip back and keep low to catch Chris Read in the crease. Billy Doctrove gave a straight forward lbw decision and England were 345 for 5 with Read gone for a good looking 34. Read’s innings also contained a six which had come through a pull shot to Danish Kaneria’s top spinner that was on the shorter side. England decided to save Kevin Pietersen for the second day’s play and in came night watchman Matthew Hoggard. The nightwatchman did his job to perfection until the last over of the day’s play when his stumps were knocked down by Umar Gul’s away going delivery that was pitched up on the stumps. England wouldn’t be that bothered though about Hoggard’s wicket and would be hoping that Pietersen and Bell continue from where they had left today.
Kevin Pietersen’s 104 had come through three lives with the first one being given not out by umpire Hair after the batsman had got an inside edge onto the thigh pad off the bowling of Shahid Nazir. The second life was also through an inside edge onto the body and then into the slips but this time the bowler, Shahid Nazir had over stepped the crease. The third life was through a dolly of a catch dropped at short mid wicket by Salman Butt with Pietersen pulling Shahid Nazir’s short delivery straight into Butt’s hands. All in all, Pietersen’s 104 took just 131 balls with the help of 15 fours and two sixes. For Pakistan, Umar Gul was the pick of the bowlers taking four wickets in just over 18 overs and Shahid Nazir looked clever in seaming the ball in both the directions but not at a great pace, which was just around the 80mph mark. There was hardly anything in the wicket for Danish Kaneria and Mohammad Sami continued to be expensive although he looked to be running in well to the crease today.