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Pakistan vs England - Team of the series

The England captain led from the front and was the best batsman by a country mile

Pakistan won the Test series 2-0, comprehensively beating England and becoming No.2 in TestsAs Ben Stokes danced down the track to launch Yasir Shah out of Sharjah, the ball spun past his flashing blade and settled in the hands of wicket-keeper Sarfaraz Ahmed, who completed an easy stumping. After three exciting Test matches, Pakistan had yet another win in UAE, their temporary home.There was more good news to follow, as they became the No, 2 ranked Test team in the world. As Misbah-ul-Haq happily accepted the Test trophy, the focus was firmly on Alastair Cook’s England who let many opportunities slip by and handed Pakistan a series win by meekly folding for 156 in the last Test.After a monotonous batting display in the first four days of the first Test, Pakistan collapsed spectacularly - but not before wasting several overs - to give England an outside chance of chasing 99 in 11 overs. Though England swung a couple. they were unable to complete it against a Test match field.The second match was also on a knife’s edge, before Wahab Riaz turned it in England’s way with a brilliant spell of fast bowling, before Yasir Shah outdid them in the second innings.It was the third Test which provided a typical subcontinent pitch - slow and spinning. While Pakistan batted freely, England did so with demons on their mind, which ended with them folding in the second innings. Pakistan had taken the series 2-0, and England were left to rue their chances.The series certainly had its moments - Cook and Malik’s double centuries in the same match, Adil Rashid’s five-for, Anderson and Broad’s spectacular spell on the first day of the last match. But how many of them were consistent enough in the series? Let’s check out the combined team of the series:

#1 Alastair Cook

The England captain led from the front and was the best batsman by a country mile

With 450 runs from the three Tests, the England captain leads the way in the run-scorers list. He started off the first Test with an imperious 263 in the first innings on a dead pitch in Abu Dhabi.

His run-scoring feat lasted 528 balls and a mind-boggling 14 hours in the middle. Once Cook passed 250, it looked like he was destined for his first triple century, but he got out against the run of play.

Though Cook didn’t play any more big knocks in the series, he showed true grit and determination in the middle. Especially in the third and final Test when the pitch was spitting and fizzing, he played a lone hand as wickets crumbled around him. Even when most batsmen couldn’t account for the turn, Cook provided a dead bat and kept the Pakistani bowlers at bay.

Cook faced 950 deliveries in the series, the third-highest by any England batsman in a three Test series in Asia. Cooks’ resurgence in form is good news for England who need their captain to step up in the next few months where they will face formidable opponents.

#2 Mohammed Hafeez

Mohammed Hafeez scored a terrific century in the third Test

Mohammed Hafeez ended up as Pakistan’s top run scorer in the series thanks to a late century in the second innings of the third Test. After making 98 in the first Test, he got several starts but failed to capitalize on any of them. He attacked the England bowlers at the onset and provided a good start for Pakistan in every Test, but got out to loose shots.

All that changed in the last Test as he made a brilliant 151 to take’s Pakistan’s lead beyond 200, and by extension, beyond England. His knock started sedately, but quickly accelerated as he hit 15 fours and 3 towering sixes off England. Despite batting on a minefield, Hafeez played attacking cricket and quickly increased his team’s score.

Hafeez scored 380 runs in the series, but the cloud over his bowling action prevented him from having a bowl. Pakistan will hope that he gets cleared so he can contribute with the ball as well.

#3 Shoaib Malik

Shoaib Malik scored a double century in what was his final Test series

Pakistan’s comeback man had yet another successful Test series - which turned out to be his last. Malik announced his retirement from the longest format of the game after the second Test, which shocked many of Pakistan’s fans. Since it came after a terrific 245 in the first Test, it was a bolt from the blue.

Playing in his trademark style, Malik kept rotating the strike throughout the innings and kept the English players busy in the field. True to his nature, Malik didn’t waste a single minute as he was completely focused on making runs.

He hit 24 fours and 4 sixes in his mammoth knock. But it is also true that he didn’t have the best of series after that, as he made four single digit scores, including 2 ducks.

Malik made 292 runs in the series, but with his retirement, Pakistan will have to quickly find the right batsman to replace him in the side.

#4 Younis Khan

Younis Khan continued to defy the numbers as he racked up the runs

The old man of Pakistan cricket, Younis Khan was at it again in his favourite UAE ground. He proved that he had not fallen prey to age as he continued to make runs at will.

After an average first Test, he quickly got into the groove with 118 runs in the second innings of the second Test. He came in with Pakistan badly needing a partnership and stuck around to make one.

He worked hard for his runs on a pitch that was keeping low and successfully negotiated England’s trio of spinners. He played with soft hands, finding the gaps and nudging the ball for singles and doubles. His knock proved conclusive as Pakistan’s lead went way beyond England’s grasp, and it ended in victory.

Younis made 302 runs in the three matches, giving the Pakistani middle order a much-needed anchor. He also went past 9000 test runs in the series. His contribution in the middle ensured that wickets did not fall in a heap.

#5 Misbah-ul-haq

‘Tuk-Tuk’ Misbah was at his best again, saving Pakistan in all three matches

Once again serving as Pakistan cricket’s backbone, Misbah proved again why he is such an integral part of the team. He made a sensible 51 in the first match when wickets fell around him, batting out the overs and denying England a fighting chance. By the time he got out, England only had 11 overs to chase 99 in, which they failed to do.

Misbah was in his element in the second Test, as he scored 102 to take Pakistan to a competitive total. After some quick wickets at the top, a patient knock was required, and Misbah was more than up to the task.

He scored the runs at a good pace too, striking 5 sixes in the process. He then followed it up with a brilliant 87 in the second innings, which had 4 sixes.

Misbah wasn’t finished yet. In the third Test, he first scored a patient 71 as Pakistan struggled to make runs on a wearing pitch. Then, on a completely unplayable surface, he scored an important 38 to take Pakistan’s lead over 200.

His consistency proved to be the difference between the two sides as he once again emerged as Pakistan’s best player of the series.

#6 Asad Shafiq

Asad Shafiq is Pakistan’s best young batsman at present

Asad Shafiq has probably been the find of the tournament for Pakistan as he showed again and again that he could bat with the best. He played good hands in all three Test matches to take Pakistan to good positions from where they were able to dictate terms.

He started with a brilliant century in the first Test as he gave good company to Shoaib Malik. He followed it up with 83 in the second Test, coming in at 178-4 and was the last man out, taking Pakistan’s scored past 350. It proved the difference as England collapsed for 342.

Again, in the third Test, when Pakistan was at a sticky position at 152-4, he showed superb maturity to bat with Mohammed Hafeez and negotiate the prodigious turn the pitch was offering.

Shafiq was the best-emerging player in the series, and Pakistan will hope he goes a long way for them. With Malik already retiring and Misbah and Younis getting on with age, they will want a good batsman in the middle, and Shafiq fits the bill.

#7 Adil Rashid

Adil Rashid contributed with both bat and ball

Playing his first Test in the UAE, Adil Rashid came good for England, albeit in patches. Coming in as England’s frontline spinner, he delivered in the second innings of the first Test. Rashid took 5-64 in the innings, accounting for Pakistan’s lower order.

He bowled good lines throughout, troubling the Pakistani batsmen - traditionally good players of spin - by flighting the ball under the eyeline.

Despite not making much more impact with the ball, Rashid prove his worth as an all-rounder as he played two valiant innings for England in the last two Tests. The first of them, a marathon 4-hour innings of 61 helped England drag the match until the dying hours of Day 5 before his dismissal gave Pakistan a lucky win.

Then, he joined hands with captain Alastair Cook to grind out a gritty 22, frustrating Pakistan in the third Test. England were 59-6 and in danger of being bowled out for 100 when Rashid came in, and he hung around for an hour and a half to keep Pakistan at bay.

Once again, his dismissal proved England’s doom as they went on to lose the test. While Rashid still has to be consistent with his bowling, his batting prowess will surely gratify England.

#8 Wahab Riaz

Wahab Riaz turned the second Test in the space of three overs

Wahab Riaz produced a spell of such intensity in the second Test that it completely took England by surprise, which marked the beginning of their defeat. With England sitting pretty at 206-3, Riaz was brought back into the attack.

He tore through England’s middle order with a vicious display of fast bowling which drew comparisons to his similar spell to Shane Watson in the 2015 ICC World Cup.

Riaz first took out dangerman Joe Root who was looking ominous on 88. If Root had not been dismissed, England would have surely gone on to make a big score. Riaz then prised out Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler in consecutive overs, spelling the end of England hopes. From 206-3, they’d collapsed to 216-6, and they never recovered from the shock.

Pakistan has always produced fast bowlers who have been a cut above the rest, and Wahab Riaz looks to be of the same mould. Even on the unresponsive UAE wickets, he was able to generate disconcerting pace and bounce, which turned the match in a matter of three overs.

#9 Zulfiqar Babar

Zulfiqar Babar was Pakistan’s unsung hero

One-half of Pakistan’s spin duo was the underrated Zulfiqar Babar. Bowling his steady left-arm off-spin, he bowled a good line to leave the batsmen uncertain of the pitch. After going for 183 runs in the first Test, he came back strongly in the second test to take 3-53 and leave England reeling.

Though England were never in the match, Babar dissolved all possibility of a last minute stonewalling session as he picked up the key wickets of Joe Root and Ian Bell to cripple England.

He later came back to dismiss Mark Wood, who had batted solidly for two hours, in the nick of time. Babar’s dismissal of Wood came with just 8 overs remaining in the day, and it sealed the match for Pakistan.

He impressed again in the third Test, picking up the dangerous James Taylor and later Samit Patel to leave England at 59-6. He dismissed both batsmen for single digits, and ensured that England sunk in their chase of 284. He partnered Yasir Shah perfectly and will be one of Pakistan’s key bowlers in the series to come.

#10 James Anderson

James Anderson showed Pakistan what test bowling was all about

On a hot morning in the first day of the third Test, James Anderson produced the best bowling spell in the series. Taking the new ball, he extracted swing and bounce on the hard pitch and bowled impeccable lengths to leave the Pakistani batsmen awestruck. He started by removing Azhar Ali for a duck in the third over and kept probing away at the off-stump.

In his second spell, he removed Younis Khan with an excellent in-dipper, after setting him up with several out-swingers. His stump-to-stump line prevented the batsmen from taking quick runs off him, which led to their score remaining stagnant.

After the new ball was taken, Anderson stuck immediately. He removed Misbah-ul-Haq and Rahat Ali in consecutive overs, terminating Pakistan’s innings at 234.

His figures read an impressive 15.1-7-17-4, and it was just the numbers England wanted from their spearhead. Anderson bowled a similar spell in the second innings, taking 2-52 in 26 overs. He was close to unplayable throughout the match, and it set up an exciting Test match.

#11 Yasir Shah

Yasir Shah topped the wicket charts despite missing the first Test

The young magician was it again, as he single-handedly took England apart in the last two matches. Despite missing the first Test due to injury, Shah topped the wicket charts, taking 15 wickets in just two matches. Taking in the fact that he didn’t take a single 5-wicket haul in the series, it was a tremendous effort.

He began by taking 4-93 in the second Test, putting the brakes on an England fightback after Wahab Riaz opened the floodgates. He took another 4-87 in the second innings, including the important wicket of Alistair Cook. Cook would go on to be dismissed three times in four innings by Shah, which shows his class.

Shah picked up 3-99 in the first innings of the third Test, and rounded it off with 4-44 in the second innings on a venomous pitch, underlining England’s destruction. He reached 76 wickets in 12 test matches, the best by any spinner after 12 Tests.

Shah is making good headway to becoming the fastest to 100 Test wickets - needing 24 more in 3 games. If he manages to do it, he will have broken a record set by the great George Lohmann in 1886.

The leggie came in as Saeed Ajmal’s replacement, but the way he is going, he may well exceed the senior spinner. Pakistan will hope that Shah’s form continues, and so will the world, for it is excellent.

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Edited by Staff Editor
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