Jonathan Trott and Stuart Broad’s centuries transformed England’s fortunes on a day of personal landmarks at Lord’s on Friday, which began with Mohammad Aamer threatening to bowl the hosts out cheaply.
Instead, after lurching at one stage to a perilous 47 for five, England were rescued by a record unbroken stand of 244 – the best by anyone for the eighth wicket against Pakistan – between Trott (149 n/o) and Broad (125n/o) in a stumps total of 346 for seven on day two of the fourth npower Test. Both passed 1,000 Test runs in the course of their innings, Broad on his way to a maiden first-class century and Trott little more than a year after his Ashes-clinching debut at The Oval.
Yet it was Aamer (six for 73) who had made the first bid for the headlines when he became the youngest bowler ever to get 50 Test wickets and only the second Pakistani to take six in an innings on the hallowed turf. As England recovered from a rash of middle-order ducks at the hands of Aamer, in a match Pakistan must win to square the series 2-2, this was a day to intrigue the purists as well as delight the statisticians. At a venue where Trott made a double-hundred against Bangladesh earlier this summer, he responded with a 195-ball century in which he alone – until Broad moved into outright counter-attack – had the mastery of Aamer.
Trott used the crease and advanced out of his ground to try to negate Aamer’s swing under initial heavy cloud cover in an innings which was to be peppered with his trademark, straight-bat clips to leg off the back foot. Broad, by contrast, stood tall to strike the ball on top of the bounce through the off side and down the ground in a partnership which more than trebled the total from 102 for seven. England’s prosperity – begun by Trott and Matt Prior in an important 50 stand for the sixth wicket – was unthinkable when 18-year-old Aamer was wreaking havoc in the first 20 minutes of the day.
Belying his age to make such telling use of conditions and tame the Lord’s slope like an old hand, the left-armer took four wickets for no runs in eight balls. After Trott and Prior had apparently drawn his sting, Aamer then returned to take two wickets in an over immediately after lunch – only for Broad to help England’s number three take over. Kevin Pietersen continued his worrying run of form with a golden duck – his the first of successive noughts from batsmen four, five and six. Pietersen was the odd man out in that he contributed much to his own downfall, rather than being prised out by a delivery of the highest class. He simply drove at a wide, swinging ball from Aamer and got an obliging edge behind – safely collected by Kamran Akmal. The Pakistan wicket keeper, one of several less than reliable catchers in the tourists’ ranks this summer, had already done the decent thing from the final ball of the previous over when Aamer got one to go down the slope from the pavilion end to have Alastair Cook also caught behind. Paul Collingwood survived the hat-trick ball but got little further before a review of Billy Bowden’s not-out lbw decision proved Aamer had swung the ball past the bat and in line.
Trott, not-out overnight, witnessed from the non-striker’s end yet another collapse in a series which has been full of them. Eoin Morgan pushed defensively at more swing from Aamer to edge to second slip and fall – like Collingwood – to the third ball he faced. Then Prior was mightily close to making it four ducks, but stood his ground when Umar Amin’s low catch from a speared drive at Aamer in the gully could not be proven to be clean by inconclusive footage. Prior and Trott showed survival at least could be achieved with skilful batting – and fortune – until the latter followed one that held its line from Aamer to have him caught behind. Graeme Swann took just two balls to make it four ducks for England after all – driving Aamer, as Prior had two-and-a-half hours earlier, low to gully where there were no doubts this time about Azhar Ali’s catch.
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