England's efforts to save the fourth and final Test, including an electric 96 from Kevin Pietersen, were completely overshadowed during the afternoon session at The Oval when the spectre of ball-tampering loomed large over the match. At the end of the 56th over, bowled by Danish Kaneria, Darrell Hair went over to Billy Doctrove and was seen to discuss the condition of the ball. The fourth umpire, Trevor Jesty, then brought out a box of balls and the England batsmen, Kevin Pietersen and Paul Collingwood, were allowed the choose the next one to be used, reports Cricinfo .
England were awarded five penalty runs, but had been making decent progress before the incident with a much more impressive batting display than the first day. Moments before the ball was changed it had just started to reverse swing, which played a major part in the removal of Alastair Cook for a fighting 83, giving Pakistan a vital lift. Cook and Pietersen had added 103 for the fourth wicket before Cook was beaten by a reverse-swinging yorker from Umar Gul. It had been a chancy affair from Cook, who'd survived three let-offs during the morning session.
Kaneria suffered most of the frustration as Cook popped a catch to silly point in the first over of the day, but Doctrove turned down the appeal. Then Cook escaped again, on 40, when he was bowled off a no-ball by the legspinner. That was the end of his fortune when, on 47, he pulled Mohammad Asif to square leg but Faisal Iqbal couldn't hang on. However, he survived to reach fifty off 93 balls.
Andrew Strauss had started the day in fine form, driving and pull crisply as he went to fifty from 69 balls before being trapped on the back foot by Kaneria. It ended a fine series for Strauss which has brought 444 runs at 63. Kaneria showed his emotion at the breakthrough, although replays suggested Strauss was hit outside off stump.
Pietersen entered on a king pair but he quickly imposed himself on the bowlers, although he too received a life, on 15, when Kamran Akmal couldn't gather an outside edge off Kaneria. Pietersen used impressive footwork to disturb Kaneria's length as he moved to fifty off 57 balls. He dominated the century stand with Cook, striking some meaty blows off the seamers and spinners alike. After the ball had been changed it stopped swing, spun less for Kaneria and Pietersen took advantage.
However, his desire to reach three figures at speed brought his downfall when he bottom-edged a wide ball from Nazir and Akmal clung into a sharp, low chance in front of first slip. In normal circumstances that would have been the major talking point of the session, but sadly an old issue has reared its head again.
Tea: England 173 and 298 for 4 (Collingwood 27*, Bell 9*) trail Pakistan 504 by 33 runs