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Pakistan resurgent as spinners run riot

Pakistan celebrate the dismissal of Ben Stokes and a 2-0 Test series victory over England
Pakistan celebrate the dismissal of Ben Stokes and a 2-0 Test series victory over England
©REUTERS / Action Images

Pakistan's resounding 127-run win against England in Sharjah is a statement about their resurgence, given that there has been no Test cricket played at home for the last seven years.

In the sweltering heat, Pakistan’s surge was too powerful for the visiting team to contain, as they surged through the third Test to win the series 2-0. After England fought hard with skipper Alastair Cook leading from the front, Pakistan came back in the series after winning the second and third Tests in Dubai and Sharjah respectively thanks to some great spin bowling.

Resurgent Pakistan have moved up to number two in the ICC's Test rankings, after leapfrogging Australia and England, who have now slipped to sixth. The hard-fought three-match Test series was dominated by spinners, who had plenty of tricks up their sleeve, after the bowlers leaked runs in the first Test in Abu Dhabi.

Pakistan sit pretty in second spot with 106 points, behind South Africa on 125, while Australia have now slipped to number three despite sharing the same number of points as Pakistan.

Chasing a target of 284, England were skittled for 156, and on day five England lost four wickets for just 11 runs in the first half hour of play. Cook was the only English batsman to offer some resistance, falling when he was stumped for 63, off the bowling of Shoaib Malik. Malik, who had announced his retirement from Test cricket during the game, claimed seven wickets in this Test match which includes his best Test career figures of four for 33.

With spinners running riot at both ends, from numbers three to seven, England’s batsmen could score just eight runs. This was the joint lowest in history for an England team going back to a Test against Australia in 1887 at Sydney.

Their seventh win out of nine Tests in the UAE against England continued Pakistan’s clean sweep of series at their second home. Pakistan are extremely proud of this performance away from home against the compact English side.  

“It is a learning curve and really hard place to come and play against such a side which has a wonderful record," Cook said while thanking the English spectators at the stadium.

"As a team we are lucky to have Stuart Broad and Jimmy (Anderson), but losing Ben Stokes early in the game hurt us badly."

Meanwhile, Yasir Shah added: "Being unfit for the first Test, I am very excited to perform like this straightaway.

"I am very thankful to Waqar Younis (Viki), and Mushtaq Ahmed who helped me in the nets, to keep things simple.

"Yes, with Shane Warne I had a very interesting session. Rightly, what I thought I could use I applied. And I am working on the things he had expressed."

Misbah paid tribute to Malik who has now called time on his Test career as well as the spinners for their performance.

"Shoaib Malik is good to contribute in such conditions," he said. "We wish him luck for the future and thank him for providing us such wonderful support to clinch the series 2-0.

"It was a team effort, all chipped in. Yasir and Zulfiqar bowled beautifully and so as the fast bowlers. The credit goes to boys who did very well in this series."

"The next series is due in seven months, so I have a time to decide about my future. Well I will give it a thought," he said when Ramiz Raja asked him about his retirement plans.

Yasir was declared as the man of the series for taking 15 wickets in the two Tests that he played after struggling with back pain and being ruled out of the first test in Abu Dhabi.

Mohammad Hafeez, who batted with all guns blazing steadied the Pakistan ship on day four, and was adjudged as the man of the match for his magnificent 151 in the second innings to see his team home.

The highest ever total at Sharjah is 690 by New Zealand against Pakistan, and the lowest is 53 by Pakistan against the same opponent. The highest target chased is 302 for five by Pakistan against Sri Lanka.

England have not claimed a stumping in 38 Tests since November 2012, when they were playing against India in Mumbai. The stat came to light when Jonny Bairstow missed a chance to stump Hafeez, who continued to pound the English bowlers.

Tahir Ibn Manzoor is a freelance journalist from Kashmir, who loves long-form journalism. He was featured on Wisden India, Times of Oman, Tribune Blogs, Cricket World and The Quint.

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