Wednesday 13 December 2017

Cricket: Swann keeps England on course

GRAEME SWANN kept England in contention in the third Test against Pakistan at the Oval yesterday by capturing his 100th Test wicket during a day of attritional but invariably absorbing cricket.

Swann finished with 4-68 in Pakistan's first-innings 308, a lead of 75, with Azhar Ali stranded on his highest Test score of 92 not out.

Pakistan's lead looked all the more challenging when captain Andrew Strauss was caught in the slips off the fourth ball of the first over from Mohammad Amir for four. England, who lead 2-0 in the four-match series, finished the day on 6-1.

For once in the series, England's pace bowlers struggled to make an impression on a Pakistan top order bolstered by the return of Mohammad Yousuf from a short-lived retirement.

Swann bowled unchanged between lunch and tea from the Vauxhall end to dismiss captain Salman Butt (17), nightwatchman Wahab Riaz (27) and Yousuf (56). Yousuf's dismissal, caught and bowled, gave Swann 100 Test wickets in 23 matches. Pakistan passed England's meagre first-innings total of 233 with five wickets still in hand.

But, after Umar Akmal had run himself out for 38, including a straight six off Swann, the batting collapsed in familiar fashion.

Stuart Broad and James Anderson ran through the tail with the second new ball but they could not dismiss Azhar, who took Pakistan past the 300 mark for the first time in two Tests each against England and Australia this season.

England v Pakistan,

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