By Dr Amyn Malik
Pakistan cricket was burnt down in 2010. From those ashes rose a phoenix. Critics felt that the series against England would expose the Pakistan side’s weakness.
However, the encounter turned out to be lopsided as England were no match for Pakistan’s tenacity, determination and skill.England’s strong batting line-up collapsed time and again against what is possibly the best bowling attack in the world.
England’s middle order painted a gloomy picture; Ian Bell, Kevin Pietersen and Eoin Morgan, batsmen who had helped the team post big totals in the past few series, were all at sea against quality spin bowling. Pietersen’s technique was exposed ruthlessly and his dismissal in the last innings - bowled through the gate by Ajmal – exemplified his woes.
Bell, who averaged over hundred last year, was Ajmal’s bunny in this series and couldn’t read the doosra at all.
Morgan, whose reputation before the start of the series was of a player who could play spin well, a reputation built on innings played in the shorter versions of the game, was also unable to make a statement.
Ajmal and Abdur Rehman’s control over the English side was complete. Pakistan rewrote a history as they bulldozed England in making a clean sweep. It was their fifth clean sweep ever, and the first against England. They also became the first team in 105 years to win a match after posting fewer than 100 runs in the first innings.
Ajmal took the first shot at the Englishmen before the start of the series. In Shane Warne style he said he would unleash a devastating teesra on the visitors. Although the teesra barely made an appearance on the field, it continued to haunt the English psyche. So afraid were they of the teesra, that the English couldn’t even play the pehla (regular off-spin), let alone the doosra! Ajmal was rightly named “Man of the series” for his 24-wicket haul in the series.
Rehman, the unsung hero, provided adequate support and together they took 43 wickets between them.
Misbah is a man of few words. He is not as charismatic as some of the others that have preceded him, neither is he in the same class as Javed Miandad, Inzamam-ul Haq or Mohammad Yousuf with the bat. But he is a worthy competitor and a captain who has united the team under one flag. United is not a word that has been used often to describe Pakistan. Talented, mercurial, interesting – but never united. Usually, it is the individuals who win matches singlehandedly for Pakistan; not the team as a unit.
Misbah’s team is bent on changing that outlook. They have given up some of their flair for consistency. There have been far more talented individuals who have represented Pakistan than the current bunch. However, this bunch punches harder as a whole, a whole greater than the sum of its parts.
The future of Pakistan’s batting was on display in this series as Azhar Ali and Asad Shafiq showed their temperament and soaked the pressure at crucial junctions. They look to form the bedrock of Pakistan batting in the coming years around which the rest of the batsmen will play. It was fitting that the highest individual score of the series was made by Azhar.
The No 1 Test ranking currently seems to be a curse as the two teams to have held it recently have been whitewashed in a period of less than eight months. England remains the No 1 side, even after this defeat, but it doesn’t have a resounding sound to it anymore.
For Pakistan, the saying ‘we create our own destiny’ has come true. For a team that continuously lives out of a suitcase and has no home to call its own, this victory is no mean feat. Sterner tests will follow when the team travels outside Asia, but for now Team Misbah and the nation will savour this win.
(Dr Amyn Malik is a research associate of Interactive Research & Development and an AKU graduate from the class of 2010.The above article is reproduced with permission from www. http://tribune.com.pk/)