Pakistan 99 (Broad 4-36) and 365 (Ali 157, Panesar 5-124) beat England 141 (Strauss 56, Rehman 5-40) and 252 (Prior 49*, Gul 4-61, Ajmal 4-67) by 71 runs
|Anguish for Flower and Strauss|
The first Test could be considered as England’s colonic irrigation. No major problem, but something to refresh the arses of the England side. During the second Test, England suffered a mild stroke chasing down a low target. A much more serious problem, but still not something from which they could recover. In the final Test, however, England simply died. The body will be cremated and the ashes taken to Pakistan. Sound familiar? Somehow I don’t think my mock obituary is going to catch on for future series against Pakistan to be called the Anglo/Asian Ashes…
England could not have had a more perfect start to this match. England’s best seamers, Broad and Anderson, made early inroads into the Pakistani batting line-up, from which they simply could not recover. They were bowled out in under 50 overs for 99 to give England a chance of gaining a hefty first innings lead to set up their first win of the tour.
However, as we all know with England’s batting of late, this was made harder than it should have been. Only four batsmen made it into double figures with the captain making a useful, but inadequate 56. Abdur Rehman, Pakistan’s hero in the last Test, claimed his second five-wicket-haul in as many Tests to dismiss England for a poor 141.
With a slender lead of 42, Pakistan began their second innings in a shaky manner losing their first 2 wickets for 28 runs. This brought Azhar Ali and Younis Khan to the crease in what proved to be one of the most inspiring game changing partnerships that Test cricket can provide. The experience of Khan seemed to inspire Ali and they both drove England into the ground with simple ruthlessness. Both made centuries, not by smashing England out of the attack, but by manoeuvring the ball into gaps and taking irritating ones and twos. The threat of Panesar and Swann had vanished thanks to the ease with which the two batsmen swept the ball. Rarely did the ball pitch, turn, bounce and beat the bat. They each made batting look easy and each deserved their tons apiece. By the time they both had fallen, the damage had been done and England were set a challenging 324 to win.
|Azhar Ali: 157 (422 balls) Younis Khan: 127 (221 balls)|
Strauss and Cook survived the 20 overs left towards the end of day 3, finishing on 36-0 leaving England under 300 to chase with two days remaining. Nonetheless, neither batsmen made substantial runs in the morning, thus exposing the fragile middle order which failed to deliver yet again. Matt Prior made a brave 49* but ran out of partners with less than a 100 to win. Pakistan sealed the whitewash with a 71 run victory with the spinners taking six of the ten wickets.
A series whitewash like this warrants nothing short of individual hand-written letters of apology to each member of the Pakistan team for not being able to make a test last longer than four days. Plus match fees of the England players should be donated to a charitable cricketing cause, perhaps along the lines of “coaching young kids how to play against spin” in order to prevent future dry bummings of this nature.
England’s batting on this tour has been woeful, with the seemingly strong top and middle order failing again and again to make any real stamp on the opposition. Nobody stood up and took responsibility for their country and England allowed Pakistan to dominate the game when they should not have done.
England play their next Test series against Sri Lanka starting on Monday 26th March in Galle. The Flower/Strauss combination will have to come up with something to instil determination to succeed within their batting line-up. They are fine in the bowling department, in my opinion, with an abundance of talent and back up players. On the plus side, England will not have to face a quality spinner against a Sri Lankan side who are still getting used to life without Muralitharan. Nothing short of a series win in the subcontinent is needed to re-assert England’s place at the top of the tree.