Pakistan vs. England: England Claim Win for Ages in First Test

Pakistan vs. England: England Claim Win for Ages in First Test

Two days later, and the cricketing world is still trying to wrap its head around what happened in the first Test of Pakistan vs. England.

Batting on the flattest of pitches, and playing in Pakistan for the first time since “Because of You” by Kelly Clarkson was No.1 in the charts, England somehow managed to manufacture a win out of thin air. The result was the epitome of England’s approach to Test cricket since Brendon McCullum and Ben Stokes took over, and it feels like a significant moment for the future of Test cricket.

We will now talk in more detail about how England managed to walk away victorious from the first Pakistan vs. England Test and how it will impact the sport moving forward.

Setting the Scene for England’s Win

The beauty of Test cricket largely revolves around a carefully curated patch of grass changing form over the course of five days.

In many Tests, the pitch will start off a little green, bringing swing and skid for the fast bowlers. Then, it might dry up and firm out, providing a few days of excellent batting, before inevitably, cracks and footmarks emerge, making targets for wily spin bowlers to leverage. All of this magnifies the cat-and-mouse game between batter and bowler, meaning that across the course of five days, one side can claim 20 wickets.

Except none of that happened with the pitch in Rawalpindi that Pakistan and England played their first Test on. From day one until day five, it was as firm and bland as a road.

This meant that batters could score runs at ease, and bowlers were incredibly unlikely to claim 20 wickets within their allocated time.

How Ben Stokes Willed His Side to Victory

From the very first session of this Test, it was clear that England were determined to play for a win.

Test batters typically score at a run rate between 2-3 per over. England stepped out on day one and scored at 6.50 runs per over, amassing 657 runs in 101 overs. With Zak Crawley, Ben Duckett, Ollie Pope and Harry Brook all making three figures, the intent of England was clear.

Pakistan took 50% longer to score 78 runs less, taking the match well into the fourth day before England stepped out to bat again. At this stage, no-one would have blamed Stokes for accepting this Test was headed for a draw—after all, England had tried, but there’s only so much a team can do with no assistance from the pitch.

But England weren’t ready to throw in the towel.

They doubled down on their first innings effort, throwing the bat at everything and scoring 264/7 in 35.5 overs at a remarkable 7.36 runs per over. Then, on a pitch where more than 1500 runs had been scored at an extraordinary pace, Stokes made the most audacious of declarations.

Pakistan were set 342 to win, with a good 100 overs left to play in the Test.

Beating the Light and Reviving the Sport

Under any other captain, at any other time in history, cricket fans would have been switching off their TVs and getting about their days on Monday.

Highlights from Sky Sports – UK residents only

This Test match should have bumbled its way to a draw, yet Stokes risked defeat and dangled a carrot in front of Pakistan by declaring when he did. With less than 100 runs to get, five wickets in hand and two sessions left, it looked like the audacity of England was going to backfire.

Yet a sublime spell from Ollie Robinson before and after tea saw Pakistan stutter, losing two quick wickets. The hosts went into defensive mode; England went into attack mode, and it was all on. With eight minutes of light left in the day, and 11 men gathered around the bat, Jack Leach miraculously claimed the final wicket of Pakistan by trapping Naseem Shah lbw.

In doing so, England completed perhaps one of the most audacious and inspiring Test wins of all time.

Subscribe to Punditfeed on Google News for all the latest updates from the world of sports!