x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Magnificent Pakistan rally to beat England in Abu Dhabi

Pakistan have won the second Test and clinched the Test series against England, reports Osman Samiuddin.

Mohammad Hafeez, left, celebrates with his Pakistan teammates after dismissing England's Alastair Cook.
Mohammad Hafeez, left, celebrates with his Pakistan teammates after dismissing England's Alastair Cook.

ABU DHABI // Pakistan capped 15 months of progress under the captaincy of Misbah-ul-Haq with their most impressive triumph, a series win over the world’s No 1 Test side.

After wrapping up a 72-run triumph in the second Test against England, Misbah said a line had been drawn under the controversy that preceded this period.

“The whole world should acknowledge and accept that Pakistan cricket is coming up,” Misbah said of the spot-fixing scandal that resulted in the imprisonment of three players. “Such negative things can happen anywhere in the world and we must now forget it.”

Misbah was indebted again to his spinners for a fourth successive series triumph (and eighth win in 14 Tests) though this time it was the left-arm orthodoxy of Abdur Rehman that set up the win.

Having eventually set England 145, Pakistan strangled the chase from the off, Rehman took six for 25 – his first five-wicket haul – to take Pakistan home. Saeed Ajmal finished with three, becoming the quickest Pakistani to 100 Test wickets, in his 19th Test.

“Rehman is always an important member of the team,” Misbah said. “Whenever he is needed, whenever there is pressure, he comes and performs. When a bowler like Ajmal is not giving breakthroughs, Rehman comes and takes wickets. It’s a blessing to have a bowler like this.”

England’s approach against spin contributed to what was their lowest-ever total against Pakistan. Alastair Cook and Andrew Strauss were tied down early; at one stage they had scored 14 after 13 overs. Subsequently, their middle-order was sliced open yet again by spin. A “bitterly disappointed” Strauss was left to concede that England’s weaknesses in subcontinent conditions had not been overcome. They have not won a series in the region (other than Bangladesh) since 2000/01.

“I said at the start of this tour this is the final frontier,” he said. “English sides haven’t done very well out here in the past and we came and approached things positively. We felt we had a great chance to win this series. But the fact we got rolled over twice in Dubai meant there was some baggage going into this final innings.”

The sides head to Dubai for the final Test, which begins on Friday. Should England lose the series 3-0 and South Africa beat New Zealand likewise in March, they will be displaced as the top Test side.