Pak­istan thrash Eng­land to level se­ries

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Sport Starts Here -

PAK­ISTAN com­pleted a 10-wicket win over Eng­land on day four at The Oval to earn a 2-2 draw in the four-match se­ries.

Re­sum­ing 126 runs be­hind at 88-4, Eng­land be­gan well with con­sec­u­tive half-cen­tury stands.

But two wick­ets fell in suc­ces­sive balls af­ter lunch, in­clud­ing the en­ter­pris­ing Jonny Bairstow for 81 from 127 balls, and they were 253 all out.

Spin­ner Yasir Shah took 5-71 and, set a pal­try 40 to win, Azhar Ali sealed the match with a six soon af­ter tea. The teams will next meet again in lim­ited overs cricket. A five-match one-day in­ter­na­tional se­ries be­gins on 24 Au­gust, fol­lowed by a Twenty20 in­ter­na­tional on 7 Septem­ber.

The build-up to the fi­nal game had fo­cused on Eng­land’s quest to re­gain the num­ber one Test ranking, but it was Pak­istan who took a de­ci­sive step to­wards the top spot.

They will reach the sum­mit if In­dia do not beat West Indies in next week’s fi­nal Test in Trinidad and Aus­tralia fail to win the fi­nal Test in Sri Lanka.

Hav­ing lost the pre­vi­ous two matches eas­ily it was an im­pres­sive re­cov­ery, with 38-year-old Younus Khan reach­ing 200 for the sixth time and Shah claim­ing his sixth five-wicket haul in only his 16th Test.

Seamer So­hail Khan proved a use­ful ad­di­tion, tak­ing 13 wick­ets in the past two matches.

With their sup­port­ers basking in the south Lon­don af­ter­noon sun­shine, there was dou­ble cel­e­bra­tion as vic­tory was achieved on the na­tion’s 68th In­de­pen­dence Day.

It was no typ­i­cal end of Test mine­field with the ball turn­ing dra­mat­i­cally out of the rough or re­verse swing­ing, and Eng­land set about their task in con­fi­dent, com­posed fash­ion.

Bairstow, look­ing to score at ev­ery op­por­tu­nity and res­o­lute when de­fence was re­quired, com­pleted his fourth fifty of the se­ries and was well sup­ported by Gary Bal­lance un­til the left-han­der fished at one wide of off­s­tump from So­hail Khan for 17.

The mo­men­tum was con­tin­ued by first-in­nings cen­tu­rion Moeen Ali, who lofted Shah high over wide long-on for six and looked in com­plete com­mand be­fore an un­char­ac­ter­is­ti­cally flat-footed prod at the legspin­ner was caught by wick­et­keeper Sar­fraz for 32 in the penul­ti­mate over be­fore lunch.

A stunning piece of field­ing from bowler Wa­hab Riaz gave Pak­istan the break­through in the eighth over af­ter lunch, hit­ting the stumps di­rectly while ly­ing down when Chris Woakes (4) was sent back in mid-pitch.

Hav­ing moved to 992 runs for the cal­en­dar year, Bairstow drilled the next de­liv­ery low to cover and the end of the in­nings came 35 min­utes be­fore tea, debu­tant Iftikhar Ahmed tak­ing the fi­nal wicket of James An­der­son (17).

Se­cu­rity checks per­mit­ting, Eng­land’s next Test as­sign­ment is a two-match se­ries in Bangladesh start­ing in Oc­to­ber, be­fore a three-Test se­ries in In­dia.

Opener Alex Hales scored three half-cen­turies ear­lier in the sum­mer against Sri Lanka but av­er­aged only 18 in this se­ries with a best of 54.

Hav­ing re­funded a spec­ta­tor £4.10 be­cause of Eng­land’s slow over-rate in the pre­vi­ous Test, he lost 15% of his match fee here for an an­gry re­sponse fol­low­ing his con­tro­ver­sial dis­missal to a low catch in the first-in­nings.

Nei­ther James Vince’s in­tro­duc­tion to Test cricket or Bal­lance’s re­turn was a suc­cess, with Alas­tair Cook and Joe Root scor­ing 935 be­tween them at an av­er­age of 66.78, com­pared to Hales, Vince and Bal­lance’s 498 at 22.63.

There was also a fit­ness concern over one of the bowlers, Steven Finn go­ing off shortly be­fore the end, in Eng­land’s first home de­feat when bat­ting first since 2012. — BBC Sport

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