Step aside, Cinderella.
Even the most optimistic of followers cannot say that they called it.
No longer considered an elite Test team, Pakistan pulled off one of the most spectacular series victories in cricket history, beating the current top-ranked side, England.
And they did it in some style too: Bowling out England for 72, chasing a paltry target.
The world’s best were tangled in the web spun indefatigably by Abdul Rehman and Saeed Ajmal, a target of 144 proved too much. Pakistan launched 2012 just like they ended 2011 – with a convincing series-win.
A foggy start to the day aided England’s aim of bundling out Pakistan early before shunning the demons of Dubai and plan for next week’s decider. But, as the desert sun portrayed a truer picture later in the day, it was Pakistan – yet to lose a Test series since August 2010 – bamboozling the opposition once again, finding assistance off the cracks on the pitch as well as the doubts in the batsmen’s minds.
Man of the match Rehman, playing second fiddle to Ajmal till now, outshone the maestro and grabbed a career-best six for 25 to send England crashing to their lowest total against Pakistan and also their first series-loss since February 2009.
Pakistan won the Test series 2-0, with one Test to play in Dubai.
“It’s a big win against the top side in the world,” said captain Misbahul Haq, who is yet to lose a Test series as captain since taking over in October 2010. “I don’t have the words to describe it. There was a lot of talk of this being our first big real test. We had a very good opportunity to prove ourselves and the team has done just that.”
England captain Andrew Strauss, who remained his side’s top-scorer in the sorry innings, rued yet another batting failure as his side failed to adapt to the spin, and guile, of the Pakistani spinners.
“Ultimately, we’ve been rolled over in three out of the four innings and the top-order need to take that on the chin,” he said.
The teams head back to Dubai for the final Test of the series that starts from Friday.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 29th, 2012.