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Collingwood keeps England on top at Lord~~s

Published: Friday, July 14, 2006, 23:53 [IST]
 
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London:Paul Collingwood's Test-best 179 not out has strengthened England's position against Pakistan at Lord's.

At lunch on the second day of the first Test of a four-match series, England were well-placed at 426 for four.

Collingwood was at the heart of two big stands, putting on an England fourth-wicket record against Pakistan of 233 with Alastair Cook, whose 105 was also his Test-best and then sharing an unbroken partnership of 105 with Ian Bell (43 not out).

Durham all-rounder Collingwood's innings was also the best by an England batsman against Pakistan at Lord's, surpassing Tom Graveney's 153 in 1962.

England resumed on 309 for three with left-hander Cook 101 not out and 30-year-old Collingwood 109 not out.

Both men had been given reprieves with Cook dropped three times (on nought, 45 and 81) while Collingwood had been put down on 79 on Thursday as the pair scored their second Test hundreds and first at home, after they'd each reached three figures against India at Nagpur in March.

Poor fielding was the last thing a second-string Pakistan attack needed after they'd been forced to do without Shoaib Akhtar (ankle), Rana Naved-ul-Hasan (groin) and Mohammad Asif (elbow).

But 13 balls into the new ball, paceman Mohammad Sami took the fielders out of the equation by clean bowling Cook off-stump. The Essex batsman had faced 279 balls with 10 fours in an innings lasting more than for five hours.

Bell, recalled in the absence of all-rounder Andrew Flintoff (ankle) then got off the mark with an unconvincing edged four to third man.

But Collingwood, on a sunny day with blue skies ideal for batting, confidently twice punched the ball through the covers off Umar Gul.

Bell then tucked a delivery off his legs from Gul for four, with leg-spinner Danish Kaneria - not the quickest in the outfield - kicking he ball into a piece of cover tubing which forced play to be held up for several minutes.

Bell, then cover-drove Sami in classic style for four.

Collingwood, on 131, then survived a confident appeal for caught behind off Mohammad Sami before going past his previous Test best of 134 not out.

Gul, after conceding 29 runs in five overs, was replaced by Shahid Afridi.

But Collingwood responded by pulling the leg-spinning all-rounder for two fours in successive balls. The second brought up a fifty stand in just 42 balls as England looked to build on their overnight advantage.

And with the first 10 overs of the new ball costing 58 runs, England were certainly on top.

Importantly, Collingwood turned his century into a big hundred, going to 150 off 236 balls with 20 fours after a single off Abdul Razzaq.

Pakistan, who beat England 2-0 at home in a three-match Test series late last year, have not lost a Test series in England since 1982 and recently leapfrogged England into second place in the International Cricket Council (ICC) Test rankings.

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