Test cricket: Pakistan, five for five
When was the last time Pakistan played five test series without losing even a single one?
With the third Test between Pakistan and Sri Lanka ending in a draw, Pakistan managed to win yet another Test series under the captaincy of Misbah-ul-Haq.
This is now the fifth consecutive Test series that Pakistan has played under Misbah's leadership. This is also the fifth consecutive Test series that Pakistan has not lost. That surely must be some sort of a record. When was the last time Pakistan played five Test series without losing even a single one?
With draws against South Africa and the West Indies, and wins over Sri Lanka, New Zealand, and Zimbabwe, Pakistan's Test outfit is looking quite strong. These results are even more astonishing when you consider the fact that their opening bowling pair, arguably the best opening bowling pair in the world, are currently in jail.
What do these wins mean for Pakistan?
They are still ranked at number six in Test cricket according to ICC rankings. Pakistan's win-loss ratio and percentage of wins during 2011 is second only to England's, whom they will incidentally be facing at the start of next year. England was also the last team Pakistan played against before this no-loss streak started under Misbah.
With their next Test assignment against Bangladesh, Pakistan is sure to improve this record even further.
Our team's astounding performances in Test cricket this year has come on the back of some remarkable performances. It is the bowling side, in particular, which has really shone, even in the absence of the likes of Shoaib Akhtar, Mohammad Asif, and Mohammad Aamir.
Saeed Ajmal is the leading wicket taker in Test cricket this year, with 41 wickets in 6 matches. I wonder how many he would have had, had he not missed 2 Tests matches this year. (Note that the wicket tally does not include Bishoo's 6 wicket haul in the on-going India vs West Indies test)
What makes Saeed Ajmal's feat even more noteworthy is that he has 14 more scalps than Graeme Swann, who is widely regarded as the best spinner in international cricket currently. Moreover, Ajmal has played less Test matches than Swann this year.
Even the Pakistan batsmen have fared well this year, with three of them making the list of top run getters this year.
However, let it be known that Pakistan's achievements this year are not only restricted to Test cricket alone - their record in ODIs is also immaculate.
Only Australia has more wins than Pakistan in ODIs this year, and if Pakistan can register a victory over Sri Lanka in the first ODI in Dubai this Friday, they will be at par with Australia at the top of the ODI table for 2011.
So what is really behind Pakistan's success in 2011?
Is it Misbah's leadership? Is it the fact that Misbah has trustworthy team-mates like Mohammad Hafeez and Saeed Ajmal who have played under him for Faisalabad for over a decade now? Is it the emergence of batsmen like Azhar Ali, and the re-emergence of the likes of Taufeeq Umar at the top of the order? Is it the fact that bowlers are taking more responsibility in the absence of the jail birds? Is it the safe hands we have behind the stumps now with no Kamran Akmal to drop the easy ones? Or is it merely the fact that the spot fixing scandal has ensured that all shady characters are out of the team?
Whatever it is, Pakistan has fearlessly managed to grab all chances this year and let us hope this blog post does not jinx our luck!
This post was originally published here.