England Slide to Series Defeat

With the final match of the test series having gone into day 5, England still believed they would be able to get the 237 runs required for victory and a successful drawn series away from home. As it turned out, a pathetic England middle order collapsed once again as numbers 3-7 scored an absolutely dismal eight runs between them. England comfortably lost the match by 127 runs which gave Pakistan a 2-0 series win.

As with the previous two tests, Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq won the toss and selected to bat in Sharjah. For the first time though, Pakistan failed to make the most of this advantage as England reduced them to 116-5. Misbah led the fight back from the front with a solid 71 and was supported well by both Shoaib Malik (38), in his final test before retirement, and keeper Sarfraz Ahmed (39). Pakistan crawled their way to 234 all out with the reliable opening pair of Jimmy Anderson (4-17) and Stuart Broad (2-13) the pick of the England bowlers.

England’s reply was a story of many starts without any significantly big scores. Four England batsmen were dismissed in the 40s whilst James Taylor, playing in his match for over three years, top scored with 76 as the middle order problem from the first two tests seemed to have been resolved. Unfortunately for the three lions, all-rounder Ben Stokes suffered a shoulder injury whilst fielding in the first innings, debilitating his batting ability and leaving his team a batsman short. Despite this, England took a respectable 72 run lead in to the second innings’ on day 3.

Image: Daily Mail

The deficit was cancelled out early on in Pakistan’s 2nd innings as opening pair Azhar Ali (34) and Mohammad Hafeez put on a 101 run stand before a mix up saw the former run out by Adil Rashid. Sadly, Malik only lasted a solitary delivery in his last innings in test cricket in what has been an extremely successful career, caught plumb LBW to Anderson for a golden duck. Despite both Younis Khan (14) and night-watchman Rahat Ali (0) falling cheaply, Hafeez kept batting superbly, untroubled by all England threw at him. Shortly after bringing up his 150 though, Hafeez tried to smash Moeen Ali over long-on but could only pick out Ian Bell for an outstanding 151. Pakistan eventually bowled out for 355, setting England a gettable target of 284 runs to win.

England’s chase didn’t get off to the most convincing of starts as Ali (22), probably for the final time as opener, and Ian Bell (0) were dismissed cheaply by Malik. Day 4 closed with England on 46-2 with a win available for both sides. However, to the disappointment of many England fans setting their alarms early to watch their team win on the final day, the middle order once again showed their cracks. Joe Root (6), Taylor (2), Jonny Bairstow (0) and Samit Patel (0) applying absolutely no resistance as England were reduced to 59-6 by the Pakistan spinners. With the match now all but Pakistan’s, captain Alistair Cook scored another good half century before Yasir Shah’s 4-44 helped skittle England out for an unsatisfactory 156.

England now slide down to a disappointing sixth in the ICC test rankings whilst, despite not playing international cricket in their home country, Pakistan climb to an impressive second. England will look to bounce back from the defeat in the four ODIs against Pakistan starting on November 11th.

Matthew Norman 

Featured image: BBC

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