First day: England, with eight first-innings wickets in hand, lead Pakistan by 48 runs
It took one man to click, and all England's bowling problems melted away here yesterday, just like an ice cream on another searingly hot day. Steve Harmison was the man who responded to Andrew Strauss's plea before the match for his senior bowler to take the lead.
Figures of 13-7-19-6 did not flatter him one jot, even though the pitch was not only hard, dry and cracked but, surprisingly, was up and down in bounce and also offered over-generous turn for Monty Panesar. The Durham fast bowler has had a worry-ingly lengthy period short of fitness and form but normal service was resumed yesterday in two spells of raw hostility that had at least two Pakistani batsmen sounding the retreat.
As in the West Indies two years ago, when a fast bowler sees the batsman's back leg go in the wrong direction, he smells fear as keenly as the King of the Jungle closing in for a quick kill. He turned several batsmen inside out, notably Shahid Afridi who soon decided that the best way to deal with him was to ensure he only faced Panesar.
His one-man demolition job yesterday did more than bowl the tourists out for 119, it put down a marker for the next two Tests, always assuming the groundsmen at Headingley and the Oval accommodate him so generously.
England are so much in charge of this match that it will take divine intervention from the weather gods - not forecast - or one of the great rearguard actions whenever Pakistan bat again. What Harmison underlined was the desperately thin line for Strauss between what he did and what will happen when he does not take quick wickets. The England captain was bitterly disappointed to lose the toss and must have thought he would be struggling to juggle his four-man attack throughout 90 overs, with Sajid Mahmood, preferred to Jonathan Lewis, the main worry.
He came on after 12 overs, with Harmison whipping out the two inexperienced openers, Imran Farhat and Kamran Akmal, curiously promoted from seven to try to solve Bob Woolmer's problem regarding a decent opening partnership. Harmison took his first two wickets in his second and third overs, with Farhat suckered out with a perfect one-two. A couple of short ones; followed by a full-length ball and the left-hander could only edge a low catch to Kevin Pietersen at third slip.
Akmal also got one that left him and bounced, and Marcus Trescothick clung on at first slip, despite a wild poaching dive across him by Geraint Jones who, fortunately, failed to lay a finger on the ball. That was nine for two but it was to be the last sucess for 90 minutes, in which Mah-mood had to bowl.
His first over was magnificent - pace, bounce and swing as well as a great throat ball to Mohammad Yousuf who could only luckily fend off to safety. But then... five overs of mostly dross, including a set of four off-side wides and a concession of five more fours. He was unlucky when a difficult, hard chance to gully did not stick but even so had a disappointing day. Yousuf and the elegant Younis Khan cashed in and had put on 81 from 19 overs when Strauss brought on Panesar and brought back Harmison, each for one over before lunch.
They each took a wicket to start a run of four wickets in four overs for three runs, and a terminal collapse of eight wickets for 29 runs in 14 overs. It was a question of which was the bigger surprise - the variety of bounce from Harmison, or the degree of turn, sometimes more than a foot, from Panesar.
Pakistan must have known that any score over 200 would have kept them in the match, with England having to bat second and fourth on a pitch that can only deteriorate on the fourth and fifth days. Now it is a question of how far the match will go.
Pakistan needed at least four wickets but got only two. Trescothick's poor run continued as he edged behind, and Strauss went the same way after a punchy 42.
Alastair Cook and Pietersen realised that, Danish Kaneria apart, there was little to worry about and had added 73 in 20 overs when play ended.
Having won only two out of ten Tests since last year's Ashes, compared with Australia's 11 out of 12, England are not suddenly a great side again. It was down to Harmison yesterday.
He can have another day when he bowls just as well but gets no reward - which is why, with the problems of a four-man attack, Strauss is always walking a tightrope.