Pakistan came, Pakistan conquered the Lord’s.
They became the first side to defeat England in a Lord’s Test in the month of May.
By using the word ‘defeat,’ one is being generous to the hosts. If brutal honesty has to be shown, the words that must be used are – England were thrashed, humiliated and humbled in the Mecca of Cricket.
As England will head to Leeds for a must-win Test, they will have to regenerate confidence in the side, which was shattered into bits by a team, two places below them in the ICC team rank. In a span of 25 minutes, England from 235 for 6 were bowled out for 242 in the second innings. Pakistan mastered the English conditions in no time and not just that, they used those conditions in their favour against the home side in a way that will be cherished for a very long time. Pakistan’s nine-wicket victory over England in the first Test of the two-Test series has come as a new start for a team, that has suffered a lot in the recent times.
Firstly, Pakistan lost two of the best batsmen – Misbah-ul-Haq and Younis Khan – at a time in one series. It will be fair to say that they still have not found perfect replacements for them. In the course, they suffered their maiden loss in a Test series in the UAE, when Sri Lanka surprisingly whitewashed them 2-0 last year. A few months later, when Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) had announced squad for the Ireland and England tour, they faced massive criticism for choosing an inexperienced side. Out of the 16-man squad, they were on the verge of giving a Test debut to as many as five players.
However, the way a young and inexperienced Pakistan side executed their plan in Lord’s was nothing but commendable. Almost everyone made a vital contribution at a certain point of the match. Be it batting, fielding or bowling, Pakistan had outplayed England across the departments and Pakistan Coach Mike Arthur couldn’t have been more satisfied. With this win, Pakistan is assured of not losing the series, at least. “The guys played unbelievably and that Test performance was as good as any I have been involved in,” Arthur said after the Lord’s win.
The conditions in England mostly favour the fast bowlers. Moreover, England batting woes were not hidden anymore and all Pakistan bowlers had to do is stick to their strengths and exploit the English batsmen. And, that’s exactly what they did. Ironically, Pakistan made use of the English conditions better than the home side at the Lord’s Test. Since there was hardly any swing, the likes of Stuart Broad and James Anderson were almost negligible in the game. Meanwhile, the touring pacers had pace and Mohammad Abbas, Mohammad Amir and Faheem Ashraf made a difference with the ball.
The major difference between Pakistan’s series against Sri Lanka and this first Test against England was their pace department. In the two Tests against Lanka in 2017, Abbas bagged eight wickets and Amir one. On the other hand, in one Test against England, Abbas already has clinched eight wickets and Amir five. In the absence of Yasir Shah, who Pakistan’s leading wicket-taker against Lanka with 16 scalps, Pakistan backed a 19-year-old Shadab Khan for the spinner of the side. He was just two-Test old but showed great character, maturity and skills of being an impactful all-rounder.
He didn’t start off well in the first innings, where neither did he pick a wicket not was economical but then he made up for it with the bat. He scored a crucial 85-ball 52 and that helped Pakistan earn a healthy first innings lead. The confidence he obtained by delivering a crucial knock, helped him perform well with the ball as well. Shadab drew England’s second blood in the third innings with the dismissal of Mark Stoneman. He slowly bettered it with the wicket of England’s key batsman Ben Stokes later in the innings. Meanwhile, contradicting to England batsmen’s pathetic performance, Pakistani batsmen delivered an impressive performance. Mostly because, the England bowlers hardly moved the ball and apart from Mark Wood, none had the required pace to trouble the batsmen.
Pakistan lost the Sri Lanka series majorly because their batsmen failed to score runs, despite playing in the familiar conditions of UAE. The top-scorers that series included three Sri Lankans in the top three spot followed by Asad Shafiq and Harris Sohail. In the Lord’s Test, nobody registered a big knock but several fifties ensured Pakistan had enough runs on the board. The balanced contribution between batsmen and bowlers helped Pakistan seal the Lord’s Test. Pakistan needed to chase a low target of 64 runs with more than a day in hand. With just a loss of one wicket, Sarfraz Ahmed and Co sealed the Test by nine wickets and went 1-0 up.