Amir And Ajmal Tear Through England After Cook Ton
England 233 & 221-9 (Cook 110, Mohammad Amir 4-51) v
Pakistan 308 (Azhar Ali 92, Mohammad Yousuf 56, Swann 4-68)
Third Test, The Oval, day three
England's Alastair Cook launched himself out of a prolonged form slump with a century before four wickets apiece from Mohammad Amir and Saeed Ajmal put Pakistan in with a strong chance of winning the third Test at The Oval.
However, to do so, they will still need to take one more England wicket and then chase at least 147 runs in the fourth innnigs after England closed the day on 221 for nine in their second innings.
Left-arm quick bowler Amir and off-spinner Ajmal combined with devastating effect after England had dominated the early exchanges, with Cook reaching his 13th Test century in bizarre fashion when Mohammad Asif gave away four overthrows to take the Essex man past three figures.
He stroked 17 fours in his innings and was far more fluent than Jonathan Trott, who took 130 balls to reach 36 before he squirted a wide delivery from Amir into the hands of Azhar Ali in the gulley. Cook, who lost nightwatchman James Anderson (11) early to a catch by Kamran Akmal off Ajmal, went when he tickled a Wahab Riaz delivery off his pads into the gloves of Akmal and England promptly collapsed in alarming fashion.
Kevin Pietersen (23), Eoin Morgan (5) and Graeme Swann (6) were all bowled by Ajmal as they failed to come to terms with his ability to turn the ball both ways while Amir struck again to remove Paul Collingwood (3) and Matthew Prior (5), both men offering Akmal more catching practice.
Stuart Broad was unbeaten on six and Steven Finn was yet to score when bad light brought about an early end to the day's play with Amir returning four for 51 and Ajmal four for 71.
England lead the four-match series 2-0 and were indebted to Prior's unbeaten 84 to steer them to 233 in their first innings. In reply, half-centuries from Mohammad Yousuf (56) and Azhar Ali (92) gave Pakistan a 75-run lead when they were dismissed for 308.
© Cricket World 2010
lead of 146