Following their brilliant win at Lord’s, Pakistan had set themselves up nicely to scoop an unexpected series win in England. But, by the time the Pakistani players could tuck into their lunch on day one of the second Test, the game was already gone. Over the years, Pakistan have had a tendency to go from the sublime to the ridiculous, and it is fair to say they hit the latter right on the head this time around.
Duped by the Yorkshire sun
Sarfraz Ahmed would have felt like he was back at home when he woke up on day one of the second Test in Leeds. With the sun blazing out of the blue Yorkshire skies, the Pakistani skipper didn’t hesitate in putting his troops out to bat first. But, by the time good old Geoffrey Boycott could get comfortable in his commentator’s chair for Test Match Special, the Pakistani keeper would have been instantly regretting his decision. You cannot win a Test match in the first session, but you can do your utmost best to lose it, and that’s exactly what the visitors did. They were ripped apart by a team that forgot to win a game over five days, instead, allowing them to do so over three, not forgetting there was a big rain delay on day two.
Pakistani batsman does an England
It was great to see Pakistan pay homage to the England batsman by replicating the hosts’ recent form with the bat. Despite, the Headingley track proving difficult to bat on, scores of 174 and 134 were simply not good enough. Only, teenager Shadab Khan (first innings), Imam Ul-Haq and debutant Usman Salahuddin (second innings) showed any fight with the bat in hand. Given the difficult nature of the first day, you could perhaps forgive Pakistan for posting a low score. However, their second innings just cried of a team that wanted the game over and done with right there. Where have the days of scoring 30 runs off 100 balls gone? Or even scoring at 2 runs per over to frustrate the opponent? You don’t have to always play like that, but surely certain situations demand it and the third innings of the Test did.
Bowlers show consistency
Despite the Pakistan bowlers having to defend such a low score, they still managed to test the England batsman on a number of occasions and cause numerous problems. Mohammad Abbas, who was on his first visit to England, was arguably the pick of the bunch, both in this game and the whole series for his side. His action and style of bowling is suited to English conditions and it isn’t a surprise to see Leicestershire vying for his services once again following a brief spell before the series began. On their last two visits to these shores, Pakistan have won three out of six tests, and it is fair to say their bowlers have arguably played the biggest part in that great achievement.
Youngsters show promise
Looking at the overall picture, Pakistan coach Micky Arthur will be very pleased with what he has seen from his young side. Usually, when Pakistan tour England it ends in disaster, and for some it ends their careers. However, this time around it has enhanced the reputation of many players, including teenager Shadab Khan. The 19-year-old only came into the squad because regular spinner Yasir Shah suffered an injury. As a result of that, Khan showcased his talent, with the bat, the ball and in the field. His 56 off 52 balls during Pakistan’s first innings was perhaps his most impressive batting display to date. With his side in deep trouble, the youngster counter-attacked the England bowlers in difficult conditions to save his side from being embarrassed completely.
From controversy to calm
One thing that was apparent during this series was the calm and friendly nature it was played in. In recent series gone by, you have had Mike Gatting squaring up to umpire Shakoor Rana, a Test match being abandoned and those infamous no-ball incidents at Lord’s. Now, the controversial moments have passed and the cricket on the field is doing the talking. The only thing missing from this series was a deciding game.