Pak vs Eng: besting the best!

The third Test between England and Pakistan came to an end on Monday when Pakistan won the match by 71 runs, completing its momentous 3-0 victory against the world’s number one Test side. According to the International Cricket Council (ICC), “Pakistan, who were bowled out for 99 in their first innings, became the first team to win a Test after being dismissed for under 100 since England, dismissed for 76 in the first innings, beat South Africa by 53 runs at Leeds in 1907.” It is not a surprise therefore that Pakistani cricket fans all over the world celebrated this whitewash, also termed as a ‘Greenwash’ on Twitter. England could not adjust to the conditions in the UAE and the Pakistani bowlers, particularly the spinners, took full advantage. Once a batting side loses confidence in being able to address and attack the opposing bowling side, it psychologically allows itself to be dominated by its opponents. The tentativeness and defensiveness of the English batsmen proved to be the downfall of many a great player with incredible records. Young batsmen like Azhar Ali and Asad Shafiq proved their mettle while Younis Khan’s return to form was an added bonus. Captain Misbah-ul-Haq’s role as a sheet anchor must also be appreciated because it created a good combination of old and new, and a single-minded cohesion that clicked as a unit. Saeed Ajmal got a well deserving Man of the Series award. Bowlers like Rehman and Gul also did their bit in bamboozling the English side. Fielding is a traditionally weak area for Pakistan and since the ODIs and T20s are up next, we must concentrate on this weakness. Shahid Afridi’s return to the side will strengthen our chances in the shorter format.

When the spot-fixing scandal broke out in 2010, nobody could have imagined that the Pakistan cricket team would recover from its state of despondency so quickly. Not only did we do well in the 2011 World Cup but since then Pakistan has shown grit and a passion to silence its critics. When Misbah-ul-Haq was handed over the captaincy after the Afridi interregnum, the team was just recovering from disarray. Shahid Afridi did much to build the team’s confidence while he was captain, but Misbah welded the team into a cohesive unit. In the view of some experts, Misbah has a phlegmatic, mature and calm disposition, which is what the team needed. When a team is united and the morale is high in the dressing room, the results show on the field. Credit must also be given to the entire team management, including our temporary coach Mohsin Khan, for whitewashing a formidable opponent. To best the best is no mean task! The purists consider Test cricket as real cricket. This series has revived an interest in Test cricket by establishing this format as nail-bitingly exciting. It is a matter of great regret that such a fascinating Test series could not be staged on home soil for the Pakistani cricket fans. Hopefully, we will see a return of international cricket to Pakistan very soon. Heartiest congratulations to the Pakistan team for a job well done!

(my editorial in Daily Times)

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