by Rex Clementine
England have completed a stunning series win in Pakistan having taken an unassailable 2-0 lead in the three match series. The second Test in Multan went to the wire. Set a target of 355, Pakistan fought gallantly before going down by 26 runs. England’s bowling was outstanding. Pakistan didn’t offer the game to them on a platter and every time a partnership was developing, they found someone to give them the breakthrough and the hosts never had momentum behind them despite scoring 328 runs in the second innings. Their first innings failings where they were shot out for 201 to concede a lead of 81 came back to haunt them as there were too many soft dismissals.
Mark Wood was England’s hero in the second innings and the scorecard doesn’t tell you the full story how well he bowled; very imaginative, extremely passionate and of course very skillful. Mohammad Nawaz and Saud Shakeel had added 80 runs for the sixth wicket and Pakistan needed 65 runs at that stage with five wickets in hand. With lunch around the corner, Pakistan were watchful wanting to regroup and knock off the remaking runs. Wood then sent down a short delivery at brutal pace and Nawaz ended getting a glove and was caught down the leg-side.
In his next over, Wood claimed a bigger wicket - that of Shakeel. This too was a short ball that the batsman ended up getting a glove and Ollie Pope took a diving catch down the leg-side. There were doubts about the catch but not enough evidence to overturn the on field soft signal of out. Wood finished with four wickets.
You’ve got to love this north English quick with full of energy. A friendly man, he’s got all the aggression with the ball but there aren’t any glares or verbals to unsettle the batsmen. A polite man he relies on his pace to do the job for his team. Aghar Ahmed raced to 17 off 12 balls with four fours after lunch to keep Pakistan interested, but James Anderson sorted him out to ensure England didn’t have to bother too much. Of course they were given a scare but they have seen scarier days this summer and have come unscratched. This summer in home series they have beaten New Zealand and South Africa and triumphed over India in a one off game. Now they have completely outplayed Pakistan. England’s new era and brand of cricket under Ben Stokes is exciting.