Wicketkeeper Prior was England’s saviour with an invaluable unbeaten 84 as debutant Wahab Riaz took 5-63 to help dismiss the hosts for 233 at the Oval.
Andrew Strauss’s men crashed to 94-7 at one stage before Prior found a useful ally in Stuart Broad (48) and the pair put on a crucial 119 for the eighth wicket to keep England in the hunt.
Pakistan rallied to 48-1 at stumps in reply after James Anderson struck in the final over of the day to dismiss Imran Farhat.
But although Prior admits England face an uphill battle to seal a series-clinching win, he insists his side can bounce back with a decent display in the field today.
“Maybe we didn’t adapt as quickly as we could have done,” he said. “We’re going to have to come back [today] and fight hard. Hopefully there might be a few clouds about, we can get it swinging and get off to a good start and take a few early wickets. We’ve got huge belief in our bowlers that they can get us back in the game.”
Strauss won the toss and elected to bat, giving fellow opener Alastair Cook the chance to prove his critics wrong by making a big score on a good batting track. But the Essex left-hander failed once again, nicking a delivery from Mohammad Asif to Kamran Akmal for just six.
Riaz, in for the injured Umar Gul, then proceeded to rip through the England top order, taking the prized wickets of Strauss (15), Jonathan Trott (12), Kevin Pietersen (6) and Eoin Morgan (17) before Prior and Broad set about re-building the innings.
SCORECARD | ENGLAND (1st innings)
A Strauss c K Akmal b Riaz 15
A Cook c K Akmal b Asif 6
J Trott c Hameed b Riaz 12
K Pietersen c K Akmal b Riaz 6
P Collingwood b Amir 5
E Morgan c K Akmal b Riaz 17
M Prior not out 84
G Swann c U Akmal b Asif 8
S Broad lbw b Riaz 48
J Anderson lbw b Asif 0
S?Finn lbw b Ajmal 0
Extras (5nb 6w 10b 11lb) 32
TOTAL (all out, 62.3 overs) 233
Fall: 9, 35, 40, 47, 67, 74, 94, 213, 214, 233
Bowling: Amir 15-3-49-1, Asif 20-5-68-3,
Riaz 18-6-63-5, Ajmal 9.3-1-32-1
PAKISTAN 1ST INNINGS
I Farhat b Anderson 11
Hameed not out 36
Riaz not out 0
Extras (1nb) 1
TOTAL (for 1 wicket, 18 overs) 48
Bowling: Anderson 7-2-19-1, Broad 6-2-28-0, Finn 3-3-0-0, Swann 2-1-1-0