KARACHI: Six years ago, Pakistan cricket players, administrators and millions of cricket fans were sent into stunned silence as the spot-fixing scandal rocked the team at the home of cricket, Lord’s. Pakistan cricket was castigated and condemned by all, many wrote the team off, some even went on to demand a ban, and the team was quite simply in an abyss, the absolute depths of despair.
Pakistan claim victory over England at Lord's after 20 years
Misbahul Haq was handed the reins of the team at this critical juncture and slowly but surely he brought respect back for the nation and its cricketers with the sheer weight of his personality, determination and the pride that he had for Pakistan’s green star.
Six years on Pakistan stepped back on the hallowed turf of Lord’s, Mohammad Amir one of the main characters of the spot-fixing episode returned to wagging tongues and complains from various sections of the British media and a significant number of their cricket stars.
Misbah led from the front, scored a century on the first day, Yasir Shah tweaked his leg-spinners past the bats of the hapless hosts, snaring six wickets in the first innings.
The game ebbed and flowed dramatically, the tension, the stress was palpable leading up to tea and beyond on the fourth day as England kept coming back.
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Pakistan needed a hero, Yasir ripped through the defences of Jonny Bairstow but he needed help from the other end too. Amir stepped in, the very ground where he was booed and jeered six years ago now chanted his name as he ran in. Stuart Broad found the occasion too good for his limp batting technique and had his stumps castled, Yasir removed the obdurate Chris Woakes before Amir completed his redemption in front of scores of adoring Pakistan fans in Lord’s and millions hooked on the TV screens by clean bowling last man Jake Ball.
After 20 long years Pakistan had conquered the Lord’s turf for a Test win, in the 90s a team of legends led by Wasim Akram bullied England into submission, this time around another legend led a team of incredibly talented players who displayed unbridled unity, discipline and team spirit to record one of country’s finest Test wins in recent years.
Yasir etched his name on the honours board of Lord’s with a remarkable 10 wicket-haul, a performance which will further enhance his credentials as the most potent Test spinner in the game today.
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Pakistan now have the series for the taking after lording over Lord’s they have pitches at Old Trafford, Edgbaston and the Oval that suit their style of game and there’s every reason to believe that a first Test series win in 20 years on English soil is very much a realistic dream.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 18th, 2016.