With a thumping six over long-on by Azhar Ali, Pakistan squared the series against England on a day when the whole nation, back home, was celebrating its 69th Independence Day.
Pakistan were under the quash coming into this Test match having suffered defeat in the previous two but they showed great courage and determination to outclass England at their home soil. This series was a great example of competitive Test cricket and a silent message to those who consider that the longest format of the game is no longer appealing.
Although most of the Pakistan players, who got the opportunity to play, impressed us with their performances throughout the series but some of them were a touch better than their contemporaries.
5 Pakistan players who impressed us during the series!
The left handed batsman was knocking on the doors for quite a while and when he finally got his chance the 20 year old player ensured that he made full use of this chance. He scored a fifty in each innings of his debut Test and it was unfortunate that he was not able to register a century in his very first Test appearance. His canny ability to leave the ball outside his off-stump, which is rare for a Pakistani opener, impressed one and all.
If Sami Aslam can carry on his merry way there is absolutely no doubt that the youngster will go on to become one of Pakistan’s best openers and will solve the national team’s opening woes.
Yasir Shah was Pakistan’s highest wicket taker in the series, with 19 wickets to his name, and second on the list of most wicket takers in the four match series behind Chris Woakes. Shah was able to spun a web around the English batsmen in the first Test match at Lord’s which led to Pakistan’s historic win at the Home of Cricket. Although he faded away in the next two Test matches with English players countering his leg spin in effective manner. But being a spinner with such high credentials Shah made a resounding comeback in the final Test match, especially in the second innings, to help Pakistan level the series.
Having replaced Saeed Ajmal in the side, Yasir Shah has done his reputation no harm whatsoever in his little career and slowly but surely he has become Pakistan’s trump card in the bowling armoury.
Talented middle order batsman Asad Shafiq’s batting during the series was one of the brightest spots for Pakistan. Although he failed miserably during the third Test match but he made a comeback in emphatic fashion during the all important fourth Test match batting up the order at number 4.
He accumulated 274 runs for Pakistan during the series which included a century and a half century. Shafiq’s calm demeanour at the crease was a major factor in providing stability to the Pakistani middle order.
Sohail Khan was brought into the side during the third Test and he grabbed this opportunity with both hands by picking up a five wicket haul in the first innings. Khan provided Pakistan with crucial wickets at critical junctures of the match. He grabbed 13 wickets during the two Tests he played which included couple of five wickets hauls as well.
Sohail Khan utilised the conditions really well and maintained good line and length even if he was not picking up wickets which provided control to Misbah in the bowling department and hence ensured that pressure was kept on the English batting from both ends.
Misbah ul Haq
Last but not the least Pakistan’s 42 year old captain Misbah-ul-Haq who played a key role in the series for Pakistan both with bat and through his astute captaincy skills.
Misbah-ul-Haq proved that age is just a number once again as he was one of Pakistan’s top scorer during the series with 282 runs to his credit. The way Misbah marshalled the troops was commendable as he kept the team’s focus on the game and ensured that the side remained away from controversies especially after the infamous spot-fixing scandal back in 2010.
Before the series England were heavy favourites to lift the trophy but Misbah’s brigade proved that you can never write off the unpredictable Pakistani side. Many had thought that this Test side was only good enough in Asian conditions but that notion has been put to bed by the current side and now they are eyeing the number one spot in Test cricket. Here it must be remembered that Pakistan have never been the number one side in Test history after the official rankings system was introduced back in 2003.
Looking forward Pakistan face another tough challenge in the shape of the five match ODI series. Although England once start as favourites but Azhar Ali can take some inspiration from this Test series to ensure that the Green Shirts do not bow out easily during the ODI series.