Pak vs England: Fantastic stats for Team Green
Are you dreaming of Ajmal & Co doing what Wasim & Waqar used to do in the 90s, or am I the only optimistic fool?
It still hasn't sunk in that Pakistan have not only won the second Test, but also won the series; if that is how I am feeling then I can't even begin to imagine what the critics and doubters are going through right now.
Believe it or not, Pakistan are up 2-0 and the prospects of a whitewash are truer than ever.
Pakistani magic against low totals
This was only the second time that Pakistan successfully defended a total below 150 in a Test match. The last time this happened was against New Zealand in 1993 when Wasim and Waqar took five wickets apiece and Wasim bowled unchanged for 22 overs to ensure Pakistan defended a score of only 127.
That's funny because right after Pakistan's innings ended, my Facebook status was:
Is anyone else dreaming of Ajmal & Co doing what Wasim and Waqar used to do in the 90s, or am I the only ultra optimistic fool?
I guess it pays off to be an eternal optimist at times.
The night before the fouth day, I was involved in a debate on what kind of target would be a winning one for Pakistan. The general consensus was that a target of 200 was the minimum that was required. Some said 180 would be a fighting total also. Little did we know that even a lead of 75 would have been enough! And to think that Pakistan managed the impossible and bowled England out for their lowest total against us ever.
Pakistan's winning streak
This was Pakistan's fourth consecutive Test win and also their seventh Test win in their last nine Test matches. If you extend this run further back to the start of 2011, then Pakistan's record reads: played 12, won eight, drawn three and lost one.
Those numbers give Pakistan the best Test record amongst all Test playing nations for matches played since January 2011.
Since the beginning of 2011till date, Pakistan have won the most number of Test matches, have the best win-loss ratio and have the highest win percentage and the lowest loss percentage amongst all Test playing nations.
Is there any doubt then that at present, Pakistan is the best Test team out there?
Saeed Ajmal's fastest 100
Going into this Test, Ajmal required seven wickets to get to a haul of 100 wickets in Test matches. He managed just that many - seven wickets in Pakistan's epic victory over England. Not only did he pick up his 100th Test wicket, Ajmal also became the fastest Pakistani player to get there in 19 Test matches, one less than Waqar Younis and Mohammad Asif.
Ajmal's feat - 100 Test wickets in 19 Tests - puts him alongside legends like Ian Botham and Andy Roberts. No one has got to 100 wickets as fast as Ajmal since Botham did 35 years ago.
Rehman not far behind
Traditionally, Ajmal has been Pakistan's match winner while Abdur Rehman's role has been to stop the runs. Rehman has bowled long spells in the past without getting many wickets; but he has bowled long economical spells and has troubled batsmen frequently. What he does at one end also plays a factor in the opposition losing wickets to Ajmal.
I suppose it was just Rehman's day. He finally shone and exploited the rough created by England's and Pakistan's pacers to full advantage. It was only Rehman's first five-wicket haul in Test cricket - and what a day it was to achieve that!
If you take a look at Rehman's Test record, it doesn't look much different to Ajmal's. Both their averages, strike rates, and economy rates are very similar. They also have the same number of four wickets hauls.
It wouldn't surprise me if Rehman joins Ajmal as the fastest Pakistani to get to 100 test wickets.
Pakistan - kings at home
While the UAE might not be home to Pakistan, the team have played most of their cricket here over in the last 18 months and remained unbeaten in a Test match in both Abu Dhabi and Dubai. Who says it isn't home for them?
Pakistan have always favoured home conditions. But it’s strange then that despite having the best win-loss ratio of all time amongst Test playing nations for test matches played at home, no one really thinks of Pakistan among Test teams that are significantly dominant at home.
Beating India or Australia on home turf is considered the final frontier for many teams. At one time, beating West Indies at home was also considered a huge feather in one's cap. These are feats not many teams have achieved.
Yet, despite all this hype, it is Pakistan that turns out to be the strongest team at home:
Soon, beating Pakistan in the UAE will be one of those frontiers that teams strive to achieve. For England, that challenge comes around next week. Tell me – are you not already thinking of a whitewash?
This blog was originally published here. Read more by Umair Qazi here.