Pakistan Struggle to chase again as England take the series:
A rollercoaster of a Test match ensued on the penultimate day in Multan, more like a tug of war where both sides tried desperately throughout whatever day’s game was played. However, to Pakistan’s dismay, the three lions were the ones in the end who dragged the visitors over the line to win the match as well as the series.
The day’s play started with Saud Shakeel and Faheem Ashraf on the crease while the Multan crowd was slowly building up in the stands. Saud Shakeel was the set batsman with a 125 ball 55 runs in his pocket while Faheem was forced towards the field just a few overs before the sun of the third day set. The veteran James Anderson came in to bowl the first over with the thought of getting an early wicket or two before lunch in the back of his mind, thought not different from what was going on in his fellow players’ mind as well. Joe Root complemented him from the other end to bowl off spin to both left handers. Pakistan steered to 200 still 155 runs short and run rate of 3. The mundane game continued until the 70th over when Faheem Ashraf’s thick outside edge, which was caught by Zak Crawley standing at slip, saw him treading off the field with the expressions of a fallen warrior.
The other all rounder of Pakistan, Mohammad Nawaz came in next, who was promoted while Salman Agha was moved up the order. Nawaz decided to catalyse the slow flow of runs, after settling in, and hit frequent boundaries which tolled the bells of warning for the English that the game is slipping away. Root stayed while Anderson was sent back to his fielding position after being replaced by Mark Wood while Nawaz’s time to time boundaries were being cleared. Saud joined the party for a little while too and after 84 overs, Pakistan were only 96 runs behind. The 96 runs looked very achievable for a team like Pakistan keeping in mind 5 wickets were still in hand. At the same time, the 96 runs looked very unachievable for a team like Pakistan keeping in mind 5 wickets had fallen.
Frustrated England changed bowlers to break the partnership which was slowly taking the game away from them, while the English captain was impatiently waiting to replace the barren old ball with a new shiny red devil. Just like that both Pakistan Southpaws made Pakistan surpass the hitherto highest total of this match. Pakistan was well within the game and England desperate to get any of the two.
The struggle to get a wicket was awarded in the 92nd over, when Mohammad Nawaz was caught behind by Pope on the ball of Mark Wood. Pakistan was in slight trouble with 65 runs still remaining to be scored and only 4 wickets in hand. Luckily for Pakistan, two batters were still on crease. Saud the set batter standing in his nervous nineties while the newly walked in batter Agha Salman, by record, was a decent player too. Another strike was needed to skew the chances more towards the English side, however, for now Pakistan was safe and still in the game.
Thats when things started going down the hill. Wood devoured Saud Shakeel after a difficult decision from the third umpire, which he made after a good time of consideration on whether the ball was grounded or not. Eventually he went with the latter and Saud had to take the long walk back. A huge heartbreak for Pakistan. A huge wicket for England. Abrar Ahmed came out but went back inside with others just after a few balls for Lunch. Pakistan team was at 291/7 before the Lunch started, still requiring 64 runs.
The Lunch ended and a flurry of boundaries from Abrar Ahmed’s bat started who looked like he never feared a thing in his life. He hit Anderson and Wood for boundaries without a hint of any intimidation. His quick blitz was ended by Anderson just after 12 balls, when Ben Duckett caught him. Pakistan were now in the position where a only miracle innings could save them which definitely did not come from Zahid Mehmood, who came and went back soon.
Salman Agha was joined by the last man of the lineup, Mohammad Ali. The runs were flowing on the back of a sloth but it was affordable for Pakistan. What was not affordable for the team was the loss of their last timber. Salman Agha with two back to back boundaries off Wood tried to rejuvenate Pakistan but in the very next over his counterpart fell and so did Pakistan. In the match as well as in the series. England won by 26 runs, the three lions were elated and so was their management. A tour after 17 years and England were making up for every moment. A brilliant fight to clinch the series ended the second match of the series in only the second session of fourth day.