• England v Pakistan, 2nd Test, Edgbaston, 3rd day

England frustrated despite Swann heroics

The Bulletin by Andrew McGlashan
August 8, 2010
Pakistan 72 and 291 for 9 (Gul 9*, Asif 13*, Swann 6-60) lead England 251 by 112 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

Zulqarnain Haider produced Pakistan's best batting of the series to build a lead over England © Getty Images

Against all expectation Pakistan carried the second Test into the fourth day against an increasingly agitated England team as Zulqarnain Haider played the innings of his life to defy the hosts with 88 off 200 balls. When Graeme Swann bagged his fourth wicket - on the way to a career-best 6 for 60 - the visitors were 101 for 6, but Haider found outstanding support in the contrasting styles of Mohammad Amir and Saeed Ajmal to build a lead of 112 and finally make the series a contest.

Haider added 115 with Ajmal, who played his part with a gusty maiden Test fifty from 77 balls despite taking a peppering from England's quick bowlers, after initially stemming Pakistan's latest collapse as he and Amir blocked their way through 36 overs. England, especially a hot-headed Stuart Broad, grew increasingly frustrated on a day where the home side's lofty fielding standards slipped before Swann finally broke through late on.

The day, though, belonged to one man's single-minded determination yet it could all have ended first ball for Haider. He will have become an immediate fan of the UDRS when he avoided becoming the first Pakistan batsman to bag a king pair after being given out lbw to Swann. Five hours later he lofted Swann to deep mid-off, 12 short of the hundred he deserved, but having lifted the spirits of a nation.

His resolute defence certainly got under the skin of Broad who was convinced he had Haider caught behind but there wasn't enough evidence to overturn the on-field not-out decision. At the end of the over Broad then hurled the ball back at Haider, which led to the umpires having a word to Andrew Strauss about his fast bowler.

It was another day where Broad will have gained the interest of the match referee having failed to turn around during an appeal in the morning session when he thought Azhar Ali had edged to the keeper. However, on this occasion the review wasn't called and it proved the correct decision as Azhar had missed the ball by miles and Broad was left a little embarrassed.

Amir was another obstacle for England, showing up his top-order colleagues with a sturdy defence. He was given three lives, first when Broad compounded his problems with a wild throw when Amir had 1 and would have been well short, then Paul Collingwood - who earlier dropped Imran Frahat - couldn't gather a gentle chance at slip off Swann and Alastair Cook missed an opportunity at silly point off Collingwood.

Broad eventually extracted Amir with the second new ball when he edged to first slip, but there was no shifting Haider as he slowly started to come out of his shell. He took the attack to Swann - at one point backing well outside leg - and reached fifty from 150 balls which was celebrated with gusto. He got under the skin of England's bowlers with his mannerisms at the crease, and the fact the hosts became riled is the biggest compliment they could have paid Haider.

Ajmal, though, was the one who gave the inning impetus as he gave as he good as he got, pulling Broad and Steven Finn through the leg side and showing a straight bat to Swann. However, in the over after he greeted his fifty with a roar to the dressing room he edged Swann low to slip after the offspinner had switch to round the wicket.

It was a tough day for England's attack and Swann was far and away the pick having barely played a part - except at second slip - until today. He struck in his first over and claimed three more in a wonderful spell which, at one stage, included 67 consecutive dot balls as he bowled 17 maidens in a 24-over unchanged spell until being given a break shortly before tea.

Swann was introduced towards the end of the opening hour, after the quicks failed to break through, and began with a magical piece of bowling to remove Farhat as his third ball dipped in towards leg stump then gripped and turned past a lunging batsman to take the top of off stump. A year ago Swann produced a pearler on this ground to remove Ricky Ponting, but this delivery has every right to be the finest of his career.

Swann, though, was just getting started. He then produced a Ponting-like ball to remove Azhar Ali as the right hander was suckered into driving against the spin and was bowled through the gate. There was almost a third for Swann straight away when Umar Akmal showed his complete lack of understanding of Test cricket by charging his first delivery, another one which spun through the gate, but Matt Prior couldn't make a tough take.

It was with some irony, then, that Akmal's innings was ended in the most defensive fashion as he padded up to a straight ball from Swann. He tried to save himself with a review, but the ball was clipping the bails. Another beautiful piece of bowling from Swann did for Umar Amin and the end looked close. In fact, the match was just getting interesting.

Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at Cricinfo

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