Pakistan's fortunes have gone for a toss after their win in the first Test at Lord's © Getty Images
Pakistan’s fortunes have gone for a toss after their win in the first Test at Lord’s © Getty Images

They fared below average in the ICC World Cup 2015, Asia Cup 2016 and ICC World Twenty20 (WT20) 2016. The team management reported of indiscipline in the team. Wholesome changes were made. A new selection panel was chosen, players not following rules were shown the door, a new head coach was selected and they packed their bags to embark on one of the toughest tour in cricketing circles — England. Pakistan cricket team went to England with the hopes of reviving their fortunes and cleaning their image in the same country, where they were booed during their last tour in 2010. The spot-fixing saga was still ringing fresh in their ears and they had to make amends for the fiasco with their performance. FULL CRICKET SCORECARD: Pakistan vs England 2016, 3rd Test at Edgbaston

Pakistan’s tour of England consists of a four-Test series, five One-Day Internationals (ODIs) and a one-off T20I match. The manner in which things started for Pakistan, depicted they meant business from the word go. The first Test was played at Lord’s. The cricketing arena had an eye on them as it was the same venue which had taken everything from them, due to spot-fixing scandal, and they were literally starting things from starch. Day One of the first Test belonged to their most dependent batsman and Test skipper, Misbah-ul-Haq and his valiant century. He celebrated by doing push-ups, on the field, thereby giving a tribute of sorts to the military camp the team went to before the tour.  This was a new Pakistan team and they conducted unity in the field. Somewhere down, vengeance was on their mind.

This instilled a fighting spirit in them which was missing since a long time. Pakistan fought hard in the series opener and won the game in style. They took a lead in the series but, as has been the case with them, they were nearing another downfall. The second Test at Old Trafford, unlike the first one, went completely out of hand for them. Their bowling lacked energy and plans, while their batting remained erratic. They lost the Test by a mammoth 330 runs. The series was leveled at 1-1 and again they had to start from the beginning. The third Test at Edgbaston started in their favour as they dismissed the hosts for 297 on Day One.

Their bowling again sparked energy, thanks to comeback man, Sohail Khan’s five-for. Azhar Ali and debutant, Sami Aslam, displayed patience and persistence to take the side to 257 for 3 at stumps on Day Two. The visitors looked set for a revival after their failure in the second Test as they had England on the mat for the first two days. They managed to take a lead of 103 runs in the first innings, though the home team did not allow them to go completely out of sight. What followed, just shows what Pakistan does best — collapse . Misbah had pointed out after his side’s thrashing in the second Test that his team is capable of a performance like the Lord’s Test and, on the contrary, can fall like they did at Old Trafford. ALSO READ: Pakistan vs England, 3rd Test, Day 5, Highlights: Hosts stamp their authority over inconsistent visitors

Inconsistency is a word which goes with the 1992 World Cup winners and it again came back to haunt them in the final few days of the third Test. After having a lead, their bowlers suddenly went out of steam as England played brilliantly to pile on 445 for 6 and give a target of 343 runs to the visitors on the decisive day. A nervous Pakistan batting line-up threw their wickets before the ball started reverse swinging in the final two sessions and, as a result, they surrendered helplessly. Their batsmen played needless shots, looked confused of what was happening in the middle and did not look confident about spending time in the middle. A match which they should have won went out of their grasp, and they eventually lost by 141 runs.

Their peculiar rise and bizarre fall are hard to speculate for everyone. They leave their fans in awe after few spirited performances whereas, on the other hand, lose out of nowhere to leave everyone bewildered. Maybe they love the cliché, “It’s not over till it’s over”, very much. With this said, with the way  there are known to play, i.e. inconsistently, they can still rise high and draw the series in the finale at The Oval.

Can the visitors again do the unthinkable to end the series on a positive note? Only time has an answer to this.

(Aditya Sahay is a journalist with CricketCountry who is completely into sports and loves writing about cricket in general. He can be followed on Twitter at adisahay7)