Asif strikes before rain returns at Lord's

The Pakistan bowler won just reward for a mesmerising spell of late swing bowling when he bowled Strauss for 13 after the fourth Test finally got under way.

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LONDON // Pakistan dismissed England captain Andrew Strauss for 13 in the fourth and final Test at Lord's on an opening day restricted by rain to just 12.3 overs. During those 63 minutes the seamer Mohammed Asif won a just reward for an excellent display by clean bowling Strauss after Pakistan had spilled their 18th catch of the series. When play was finally abandoned for the day with steady rain falling, England were 39 for one after Pakistan had won the toss and decided to field first. A draw would be enough to give England the series 2-1 after Pakistan's upset win at the Oval last week. Play began on time in the afternoon session after the teams had taken an early lunch following light rain which had kept the players off the field.

In an unpromising start Mohammed Amir, man-of-the-match at the Oval, propelled the first delivery to the fine-leg boundary for five wides. Following an exploratory opening over from the Pavilion End, Amir found his line and then the edge of Alastair Cook's bat after the England opener had scored only one. The ball flew at a comfortable height to the right of Umar Akmal at third slip who got both hands to the ball but could not hold on to the chance. Cook, beaten repeatedly by Asif outside the off-stump by balls which jagged both ways off the pitch, was given out caught behind for nine by umpire Billy Bowden after a loud appeal from the Pakistan team.

The batsman appealed against the decision and third umpire Steve Davis over-ruled Bowden when television replays showed the bat was some distance from the ball. In a series where the ball has dominated the bat, Asif again exploited favourable conditions with some exemplary pace bowling, beating Cook three times in succession. He bowled Strauss with a delivery which completely fooled the left-hander, moving in to hit the leg-stump. Jonathan Trott drove his first ball confidently to long-on with Mohammed Yousuf labouring in pursuit. The ball pulled up short of the boundary but the batsmen ran four anyway. As the weather became increasingly gloomy, the lights were turned on but the umpires decided conditions had deteriorated enough to leave the field.

The rain returned and play was finally called off after a final inspection at 4.35pm GMT. Cook, who scored a century in England's second innings at the Oval, was on 10 and Trott had scored eight.

* Reuters