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Pak butter-fingers give England the edge
- Collingwood, Cook slam centuries in record unbeaten 4th-wicket stand

London: Paul Collingwood and Alastair Cook profited from some abysmal catching on Thursday to slam Test centuries at Lordís in a record fourth-wicket partnership on the opening day of Englandís first Test against Pakistan.

At the close of an excellent day for the home side, Collingwood was on 109, his second Test century, while Cook had reached 101, also his second in Tests, in an England total of 309 for three. They added a massive 221 for the fourth wicket, toppling the previous England record of 188 against Pakistan set by Ted Dexter and Peter Parfitt in Karachi on Englandís 1961-62 tour.

The pair rotated the strike sensibly and took full advantage of the many loose balls on offing from an under-strength Pakistan attack to haul England from a precarious 88 for three to a position from which they should control the match.

Collingwood, who now commands a Test place after being regarded as a one-day specialist for several seasons, batted with resolution and concentration, easing the ball through the leg side and punching strongly off the back foot.

He struck 12 boundaries in his hundred, scored from 157 balls in 224 minutes.

Left-hander Cook, who was dropped before he had scored, again showed maturity beyond his years in the No.3 position, reaching his century from 259 balls with nine fours.

Pakistan, who were without their three first-choice pace bowlers through injury, needed to cling on to all their chances to compensate for the weakened attack. Instead, they did exactly the opposite.

An edge from Strauss on seven flew past Imran Fahrat at second slip to the boundary as England raced to 52 from only 51 balls within the first hour.

Cook, 21, had yet to post a run when he was reprieved by a witless piece of cricket by Farhat, who dived from second slip in front of Inzamam-ul Haq at first when an edge from Gul seemed destined for the Pakistan captainís safe hands.

When he had scored 43, Cook appeared to edge a googly from Danish Kaneria into Kamran Akmalís gloves only for Steve Bucknor to reject the appeal.

Then, after adding only two more runs, the Essex left hander was deceived in flight by Kaneria and lobbed a simple chance back to the bowler. Kaneria made a total mess of the catch, dropping the ball then rolling on the ground in theatrical agony.

Akmal spilled almost as straightforward a chance when Collingwood, on 79, edged Umar Gul to his right hand. The Pakistan wicketkeeper grabbed awkwardly with two hands at the ball, which fell to the ground.

The unfortunate Fahrat gave Cook yet another let-off on 81 when he grassed a regulation catch off Mohammed Sami at slip.

England began the day in assertive fashion after Strauss, in his first game as Test captain, won the toss and elected to bat on a mid-season Lordís pitch which looked full of runs.

Marcus Trescothick took consecutive boundaries off Samiís opening over with an involuntary edge to third man followed by a solid drive through extra cover. Strauss, who has not scored a Test century since the Ashes series, looked in fine fettle with five early boundaries, including a vintage cover drive.

The pair took the total to 60 without looking unduly troubled when Trescothick on 16 pushed tamely at Gul and was caught behind for 16. Six balls later, Strauss missed a straight delivery and was lbw to Abdul Razzaq for 30.

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