Alastair Cook led England’s fightback on day three of the npower Third Test, but a middle order batting collapse has left the hosts in deep trouble at the Oval.
The under pressure Cook batted brilliantly for his 110, but England then threw away six wickets after tea to leave them reeling at 221-9, with a slender lead of just 146.
Paul Collingwood, Eoin Morgan, Matt Prior and Graham Swann all failed to make double figures as Mohammad Amir and Saaed Ajmal ripped through the middle order. That leaves Stuart Broad and Steven Finn battling against the Pakistan attack to improve England’s lead on day four.
Cook told talkSPORT: “We played really well up until tea. It got a little bit cloudy and they put the ball in some really good areas and we were very disappointed that we lost those wickets.
“Obviously we’ll try and get as many as we can in the morning. Finny can hang around and hopefully Broady can get us another 20 or 30 runs.”
The batsman, however, believes England’s in-form bowlers could get them out of trouble: “It’s going to be a real team effort, take an early couple of wickets and 140 or 150 runs seem a long way away.”
On his own fortunes, however, Cook was in much higher spirits: “It’s nice now after those low scores to come out and not just get 30 or 40. Scoring 100 means a lot.”