The England vs Pakistan Test series ended with the hosts clinching the series 1-0. After an enticing encounter in the first Test at Old Trafford, Manchester, the next two matches at Southampton were affected by constant rain and bad light, which led to them being drawn. As both the nations gear up for a three-match T20I series next, we take a look at the major talking points from the recently-concluded Test series.
JAMES ANDERSON MAKES HISTORY
James Anderson became the first seamer in the history of the sport to claim 600 Test wickets and the fourth overall bowler to achieve this feat. Anderson’s England career started back in 2003 and it took him 156 Test matches to script history. On the final day of the England vs Pakistan Test series, Anderson managed to get the better of the Pakistan captain Azhar Ali, who became his 600th victim. He now has his eyes set on the next milestone, that is, 700 Test wickets.
IN COMES ZAK CRAWLEY
After the first Test in Manchester, England’s premier all-rounder Ben Stokes had to leave the England vs Pakistan Test series midway due to personal reasons. In stepped Zak Crawley and boy he stepped up! In the first innings of the third Test, Zak scored his first century in Test cricket and just didn’t stop there. He went on to make it into a double century and finally got out on 267. He finished the series as the highest run-getter with 320 runs in just 2 innings. He had a breakthrough series and looks like England have found a permanent answer to their number three woes.
LEARNING CURVE FOR THE PAKISTANI BOWLERS
Pakistan stuck with the same bowlers for three consecutive Tests in this series. They had a relatively inexperienced bowling line-up and that became quite apparent in the second innings of the first Test, which Pakistan eventually went on to lose from a very promising position. Naseem Shah is just 17 and Shaheen Shah Afridi is 20. Mohammad Abbas is the only senior player in the fast bowling line-up, but he is relatively new to Test cricket with just 21 Test matches under his belt. Yasir Shah had to take on the anchor role in this bowling line-up and couldn’t afford to be his natural attacking self. Still, they did a fantastic job considering the experience and will definitely learn from this series.
BUTTLER AND WOAKES PUT ALL CRITICISM AT BAY
Before the start of the series, there was a lot of scrutiny on the roles of Chris Woakes and Jos Buttler in England’s playing eleven. Critics believed that Ben Foakes, who is a part of the squad, is a better Test wicketkeeper than Buttler and that playing Woakes forces England to field a team with a batsman short. Credit goes to the duo as in the first match itself they put all the criticism away. Chasing a stiff total of 277 in the second innings, England were in deep trouble when Woakes joined Buttler in the middle at 117-5. The duo put together a remarkable partnership and pulled off an unlikely win in the first Test. Woakes earned the Man of the Match award in the first Test while Buttler ended the series as the second-highest run-getter with 265 runs in four innings.
BATTING POSITIVES FOR PAKISTAN
Shan Masood started the series with a century which nobody saw coming. He played a proper opener’s innings, played out the new ball and cashed in when the bowlers got tired. In English conditions where the opening batsman’s job is as hard as it gets, his 156 off 319 balls set the tone for the series. The ever-impressive Babar Azam showed his class in this Test series as well. Even though he didn’t score a century on the tour, he still ended up as the fourth-highest run-getter in the series. Azhar Ali was unfairly criticized throughout the series for his captaincy and his dismal away record. He made a slight tweak to his batting stance in the third Test and that paid wonders for Azhar. He notched up a beautiful 141* in the first innings of the third Test and ended up scoring 210 runs overall in the series. Their wicketkeeper, Mohammad Rizwan was brilliant with the gloves behind the stumps and was equally good with the bat. The temperament and the resilience he showed throughout the series was admirable.
The weather gods weren’t kind throughout the England vs Pakistan Test series and we didn’t get the action this series deserved. All the focus will now move to the three-match T20I series where Babar Azam will make his debut as the new white-ball captain for Pakistan.
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