England’s poor form in Tests continued as they succumbed to a miserable nine-wicket defeat by brilliant Pakistan on the fourth day of the first Test at Lord’s. Eight Tests without a victory sums up England’s poor run, where they have lost a whopping six matches and drawing just two.
With Pakistan having the impetus and the confidence, England will need to come out firing and win the 2nd Test to draw the series at least. On Day Three there was optimism provided by Jos Buttler and Dom Bess in the final session, but on Sunday their hopes were dashed. Eighth delivery of the day, saw Buttler being trapped lbw by Mohammad Abbas for 67.
The hosts then lost four quick wickets for just six runs. England were bowled out for 242 runs as Pakistan chased down 64 to script a fairytale victory. Although James Anderson bowled Azhar Ali in the third over, Haris Sohail and Imam-ul-Haq shared an unbroken stand of 54 that sealed victory 90 minutes into the day.
Former players of both sides lauded the show by the visitors as they excelled in all facets of the game all along the match.
Here are five things we learned from the impeccable victory at Lord’s by Pakistan.
- Three quick wickets in 1st innings see England lose momentum: England needed a bright start but the pair of Mohammad Abbas and Hasan Ali had other plans. Mark Stoneman was castled by an Abbas incoming delivery as England were 12/1. From there on two quick scalps spoiled their momentum. Joe Root and David Malan both found edges to the wicket-keeper off Hasan. England was reduced to 43/3 and that gave the visitors extra initiative to move forward with the game. A poor shot from England skipper Root at a vital time did England in. Alastair Cook batted long, but the team never seemed to move on.
- Cook, Root look decisive, but lack consistency: When the duo scored their respective knocks of 70 and 68 in the first and second innings respectively, they looked a class above the rest. Both needed runs under their belt and Cook was the architect with some positive looking cover drives. But in the second innings, his foot never moved as he trapped leg-before for just one run. The same story continued for Root as he chased a wide delivery in the first innings and gifted his wicket in a vital situation. In the second innings, he rallied to a fighting 68 but lost his way in a time when England lost four wickets in a space of 19 runs.
- Pak batsmen show valour and finesse: Their first innings total of 363 was largely contributed by four half-centurions. The key was Babar Azam (68) and Azhar Ali (50). Ali needs to be credited for seeing off James Anderson and Stuart Broad on Day One in the final session. The new ball did Imam Ul-Haq in, but Ali held his fort to end the day on a positive note. Then it was the class of Azam, who played his shots freely and made sure he built partnerships. The coming together of Asad Shafiq and Shadab Khan in the first innings were also laudable. Haris Sohail scored 39 in both innings and showed he is a busy customer at No. 3.
- England’s all-round show a poor display: The hosts were behind in this game right from the first day and their body language looked low. Misfields, poor shots and inconsistency by bowlers contributed to the overall downfall. It says much about how poor Root’s side was, that the inclusions of Jos Buttler and Dominic Bess can be seen as a partial success. The duo prevented a defeat by an innings inside three days. In both innings, when they batted, England gifted wickets or lacked the defensive capability. A total of five catches dropped in Pakistan’s first innings contributed to the sorry outcome.
- Sarfraz Ahmed’s captaincy needs to be lauded: Sarfraz was spot on with his decision making in the field. When Imam stopped a classy Root square cut at point in the 2nd innings, the skipper went all the way from his position to pat the fielder on his back. Such was his involvement in the game. He chose the right ends for the bowlers, especially allowing Abbas to run in from the Nursery end. Abbas picked four wickets in the first innings and ended with eight overall. His bowling changes worked well and one example was that of spin all-rounder Shadab, who got Stoneman at a crucial juncture just before lunch on Day Three.