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Prior's century puts England in driver's seat

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Cricket / Pakistan in dire straits despite an all-round show by Gul

TIMELY KNOCK: Wicketkeeper-batsman Matt Prior boosted England's second innings score with a superb century on Saturday. — PHOTO: Shaun Botterill/Getty Images
TIMELY KNOCK: Wicketkeeper-batsman Matt Prior boosted England's second innings score with a superb century on Saturday. — PHOTO: Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Pakistan was 15 for three, needing a further 420 runs for what would be a World record fourth innings victory total of 435, at stumps on the third day of the first Test against England at Trent Bridge here on Saturday.

Imran Farhat (six not out) and Mohammad Aamer (0) were at the crease.

Earlier, wicketkeeper-batsman Matt Prior's courageous 102 not out on day three of the first Test helped England recover from early setback to set Pakistan a world record target of 435 to win.

Prior came to the crease with England rocking on 72 for five, which soon became 98 for six, and although it held a sizeable first innings lead, his runs took the host to 262 for nine declared and probably out of Pakistan's reach.

His 136-ball effort also ensured that Pakistan needs to make its highest-ever fourth innings score to win a Test. Pakistan's record run chase is 315 against Australia in 1994.

Prior, dropped from England's one-day plans earlier this year, combined in useful partnerships of 49 with Graeme Swann, 56 with Stuart Broad and then 49 with last man Steven Finn.

As Prior, on 63 when Finn came to the crease, approached his century he took a single off the first ball of an over seven times but the exposed No. 11 survived.

It was Prior's third Test hundred.

The floodlights were switched on all day after play began under gloomy skies, but they stayed on long into the evening session despite bright sunshine breaking out.

When Pakistan began its innings on Saturday, Umar Gul starred with bat and later with ball.

Gul, who ensured Pakistan avoided the follow-on with a Test-best 65 not out, took three wickets for seven runs in 21 balls on his way to impressive tea figures of three for 20 in 10 overs.

Pietersen fails

But a longer-term concern for England ahead of its Ashes defence in Australia later this year was Kevin Pietersen's dismissal for 22 — the 21st Test innings in a row where the star batsman had failed to score a century. England, 49 for two at lunch, was 66 for four soon afterwards.

Pietersen, who looked ready to tough it out in difficult, overcast conditions, got an inside edge off seamer Gul and wicketkeeper Kamran Akmal, who had a poor first innings behind the stumps, held a superb one-handed catch after diving to his left.

However, next ball Paul Collingwood cut flat-footedly and Kamran Akmal dropped a catch that would not have carried to first slip despite getting both gloves on the ball.

In the first innings, Kamran Akmal had missed a chance to stump Collingwood on 48.

Morgan's first innings 130, his maiden Test century, put England in a strong position, but the left-hander was run out for 17 second time around after a mix-up with Prior. Strauss exited in bizarre fashion for a third ball nought.

Pakistan resumed on 147 for nine, 207 behind but only eight short of avoiding the follow-on, with Gul 30 not out and Asif unbeaten on nought. Gul clipped Saturday's first ball, from James Anderson, for four.

And next over No 9 Gul's backfoot cover-driven four off Finn meant Pakistan had avoided the follow-on. Gul's pulled boundary off Finn saw him to a maiden Test fifty off just 40 balls with two sixes and eight fours. And in Finn's second over, Gul casually pulled him for two successive sixes.

But Morgan ended the innings by running out non-striker Asif with a direct hit from cover.

Swing bowler Anderson, who took five wickets on his 28th birthday on Friday, finished with five for 54 in 22 overs. — Agencies

England — 1st innings: 354.

Pakistan — 1st innings: I. Farhat b Anderson 19, S. Butt c Prior b Anderson 1, Azhar Ali c Prior b Anderson 14, U. Amin c Swann b Finn 2, U. Akmal c Swann b Finn 4, S. Malik c Strauss b Anderson 38, K. Akmal c Collingwood b Finn 0, M. Aamer c Swann b Anderson 25, U. Gul (not out) 65, D. Kaneria b Broad 7, M. Asif (run out) 0; Extras (b-5, lb-2) 7; Total (in 54 overs) 182.

Fall of wickets: 1-5, 2-32, 3-35, 4-41, 5-45, 6-47, 7-105, 8-108, 9-147.

England bowling: Anderson 22-7-54-5, Broad 17-4-59-1, Finn 13-5-50-3, Swann 2-1-12-0.

England — 2nd innings: A. Strauss c Kamran b Aamer 0, A. Cook c Kamran b Asif 12, J. Trott b Gul 26, K. Pietersen c Kamran b Gul 22, P. Collingwood lbw b Gul 1, E. Morgan (run out) 17, M. Prior (not out) 102, G. Swann lbw b Kaneria 28, S. Broad c Farhat b Malik 24, J. Anderson c Kamran b Malik 2, S. Finn (not out) 9; Extras (b-4, lb-11, w-1, nb-3): 19; Total (for nine wkts decl. in 75.3 overs): 262.

Fall of wickets: 1-2, 2-18, 3-65, 4-66, 5-72, 6-98, 7-147, 8-203, 9-213.

Pakistan bowling: Aamer 16-3-35-1, Asif 17-1-56-1, Gul 15-2-41-3, Amin 5-1-13-0, Kaneria 12-0-71-1, Malik 10.3-0-31-2.

Pakistan — 2nd innings: I. Farhat (batting) 6, S. Butt c Collingwood b Broad 8, Azhar lbw b Broad 0, U. Amin lbw b Anderson 1, M. Aamer (batting) 0, Total (for three wkts. in seven overs) 15.

Fall of wickets: 1-10, 2-10, 3-11.

England bowling: Anderson 4-3-1-1, Broad 3-0-14-2 .

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