LONDON (AFP) Alastair Cook ended the first real slump of his international career with an innings of 110 as England fought back in the third Test against Pakistan at The Oval here on Friday. But the match was still in the balance at tea on the third day. England, looking to go 3-0 up in this four-match series, were 194 for three in their second innings, a lead of 119, with Pakistan still to bat again. Jonathan Trott was 36 not out and fellow South Africa-born batsman Kevin Pietersen 23 not out. Left-handed opener Cook had managed just 106 runs in his eight previous Test innings, at home to Bangladesh and Pakistan . But the selectors decision to keep faith with him ahead of Englands Ashes defence in Australia later this year was rewarded with the 25-year-old Essex batsmans 13th hundred in 59 Tests and third in seven against Pakistan . Cook dominated a third-wicket partnership of 116, contributing 87 runs to Trotts 25. Nought not out overnight, Cook started scratchily on Friday in overcast conditions that threatened to provide plenty of assistance for Pakistans swing bowlers and was fortunate when a cut off Mohammad Asif flew between the slips. But he gradually found his form and sailed through the so-called 'nervous nineties with two well-executed cut fours, one square and the other down to third man, against off-spinner Saeed Ajmal. Cook went to his hundred in a bizarre fashion that said much about the perennial inconsistency of Pakistans cricket. He pushed the ball defensively to Asif only for the bowler, trying to lob it back, to send it way over wicketkeeper Kamran Akmals head for four overthrows. Not that Cook cared as he celebrated a hundred made in just over three hours off 148 balls with 15 hit boundaries. But, as if to even things up, Cook fell in tame fashion when a thin legside deflection off debutant left-arm quick Wahab Riaz was caught by Kamran Akmal. For all Cooks efforts, England were now 156 for three just 81 ahead. England, who after lunch found themselves batting under floodlights, resumed Friday on six for one, 69 behind, after captain Andrew Strauss had been caught in the slips off left-arm quick Mohammad Aamer late on the second day. Riaz had taken five wickets during Englands first innings 233 but Cook still pulled him for four when he dropped short in his first over on Friday. However, Ajmal struck first ball on Friday when Anderson was caught behind for 11 to leave England 40 for two. Poor footwork has plagued Cook for several matches but two textbook cover-driven fours off Aamer, where he got his foot to the pitch of the ball, suggested he was remedying the problem. Pakistan , bowled out for record low scores against England of 80 and 72 in 354-run and nine-wicket defeats in the first and second Test at Trent Bridge and Edgbaston respectively, managed a much improved 308 on Thursday. Azhar Ali made a Test-best 92 not out and the recalled Mohammad Yousuf 56 while Englands Graeme Swann took four for 68, a haul that included the off-spinners 100th Test wicket.