The entire Pakistani squads line up in front of the pavilion after their win, followed by the five push-ups and culminating in a smart regimental salute was symbolic of what this team is all about. They are well drilled, very disciplined, totally united and absolutely resolute and committed. It has been said earlier but should be repeated that they may not be the most talented side to have ever left the shores of Pakistan; but they certainly are the fittest and the most well prepared.
Tremendous amount of effort went into the “Boot Camp” at Kakul where the Army personnel appear to have done marvels for the cricketers fitness. The “Skills Camp” in back home coupled with the early arrival of the team in England for acclimatization and two side matches against Somerset and Sussex have certainly paid dividends.
But this win does not mean that complacency and carelessness should set in. Yes have a party or two before Old Trafford but work even more diligently and efficiently to finish the job begun so well.
Congratulations Team Pakistan; you have done us proud on 17th July 2016. No one can be singled out because you played as a well gelled cracker jack unit.
The last day’s statistics are now history as it will be futile to repeat them. Suffice it to say that as on the first three days barring innings from Misbah, Asad and Cook it was once again the bowlers dominating. 11 wickets for Woaskes in the match and 10 for Yasir Shah who was rightly declared the Player of the Match and gave a very charming, modest and smiling interview at the presentation.
Today Pakistan not only won the match but they won the hearts of almost 110000 spectators who came to watch the match on the four days when we had full houses.
The weather throughout never threatened any disruption although at times the sun and clouds played hide and seek.
It will also be pertinent to point out that the match lasted 333.3 overs during which a total of 1033 runs were scored for the loss of 40 wickets an average of under 26 runs per wicket with just a fraction over 3 runs per over (excuse any errors in calculations). How the batsmen “failed” can be judged from the fact that apart from 114 from Misbah, 73 from Asad Shafiq and 81 from Alastair Cook not even another half century was scored in the second innings of both teams.
Yes, there were some 40s and a few 30s and 20s this sad batting show was on a pitch which had no venom, no bite, no spite or any viciousness. Both teams I am sure will go back to the drawing boards and have the batting techniques and methods of their men with the willows sorted out.
England will have to learn to come to grips with facing spin; and Pakistan will have to be better prepared because England are bound to bring back James Anderson and Ben Stokes in place of Jake Ball and Steven Finn.
Talk of playing two spinners by England does not sound feasible and Mueen Ali should continue as the lone exponent of that art.
It is not usual to disturb a winning combination unless there is ian njury problem and Pakistan should go to Old Trafford with the same side.
Give Hafeez and Masood another opportunity. If the team selection committee wants to bring in Zulfiqar Babar as an extra spinner it will be a tough decision. There is at the moment no real need to bring in a right-arm seamer in place of the three ssouthpaws although Imran Khan for Wahab Riaz could be considered.
Pakistan’s opening batting and England’s middle order are brittle as the performances of the Lord’s Test will testify. More is expected from Ballance, Vince, Root; it was Woakes who put his more talented batting colleagues to shame.
For Pakistan Asad Shafiq gets better with every outing and today is arguably the most correct and sold middle order player for Pakistan. Misbah did his usual salvage work. Younis and Azhar along with the openers will have to put up improved performances.
The fielding and the wicketkeeping of both teams was below par and needs to be strengthened. We are informed that Old Trafford has a new pitch and the pitch pundits could decide on their final line-ups after examining those vital 22 yards.
It should be remembered that this is only the beginning of the series. But to get a lead first up is always advantageous. However England will not take this defeat lightly and will do all in their resources to come back strongly. Good luck to both sides for Manchester.