The spin trio of Shoaib Malik, Yasir Shah and Zulfiqar Babar shared nine wickets between themselves to help Pakistan beat England by 127 runs in the third and final Test in Sharjah on Thursday to seal the series 2-0.
Yasir finished with 4-44, Malik — playing in his final Test — took 3-26 while Babar grabbed 2-31 to bundle England out for 156 soon after lunch on day five.
England's Mark Wood out of Pakistan one-dayers
England, set 284 to win, were always on the back foot on a turning pitch, with only skipper Alastair Cook showing some resistance during his 63.
Malik eventually gave Pakistan the prized wicket of Cook, stumped by wicketkeeper Sarfraz Ahmed, to finish with seven wickets in the match.
Yasir had Ben Stokes stumped in the next over for 12 to spark celebrations as Pakistan players embraced each other.
The victory lifts Pakistan to an equal highest ever number two in the Test rankings, a spot which they previously attained only for a few days in August 2006.
3rd Test: Pakistan beat England by 127 runs, win series 2-0
Pakistan skipper Misbahul Haq attributed the win to teamwork. “We finally managed to win and credit to England for fighting well,” said Misbah, reserving special praise for man-of-the-series Yasir. “If you look back at the series everyone contributed, especially Yasir, who won us both the games and was outstanding.”
Yasir finished with 15 wickets in two matches after missing the first through injury.
Misbah added he will take his time before making a decision on retirement. “I will think [about retiring from Tests] because our next series is seven months away,” he said.
Alastair Cook’s men fought well throughout the three Tests and were unlucky not to win the first Test in Abu Dhabi, forced into a draw due to bad light with just 24 runs needed for victory.
3rd Test: Malik’s double helps Pakistan hold stronger fort against England
England dropped to sixth from their pre-series third in the Test rankings.
Cook said playing Pakistan in the UAE is always tough. “We competed really well in all three games but couldn’t dominate Pakistan at critical moments,” he said. “Had we grabbed our chances on the fourth day it would have been different.”
England were rocked right at the start of day five, losing four wickets in the space of 31 balls after resuming at 46-2.
Yasir trapped Joe Root in the second over with a delivery that kept low and caught the batsman in front of the stumps before he could add to his overnight score of six.
Shoaib Malik retires from Tests
James Taylor survived nine deliveries to score two before Babar spun one across his bat for Younus Khan to take the edge in the slip. In the next over, Yasir trapped Jonny Bairstow leg-before for nought.
It became 59-6 when Samit Patel was leg-before in Babar’s next over, leaving England in danger of being bowled out for their lowest total of 72 against Pakistan when they crumbled in Abu Dhabi in 2012.
But an Adil Rashid-Cook stand got England past the 100-mark before Rahat bowled the off-spinner with 15 minutes to go before lunch.
Former cricketers ask Misbah to reconsider retirement plans
Former players praise Pakistan
Former Test player Basit Ali said that it could have been another whitewash for England had Yasir Shah been fit for the first Test, in which Alastair Cook went on to play the third longest Test innings in history in a 528-ball 263.
Yasir constantly troubled Cook in the final two Tests, claiming his wicket thrice, as the England skipper struggled to adjust to the leg-spinner.
“England showed great fight in the first Test but we must not forget that Yasir was missing; it could have been another whitewash for the visitors had he been there,” Basit told The Express Tribune. “Yasir is a genuine match-winner and his presence in the team makes a big difference. Overall it has been a good series for Pakistan with everyone chipping in.”
Pakistan holds second best win/loss ratio in Tests between 2010-2015
Basit stressed that Pakistan need to shift their focus to the ODIs now rather than dwell on the Test series win.
Meanwhile, another former player Shoaib Mohammad lauded the team for the win, adding that Misbah has done the right thing by not announcing his retirement yet. “Misbah has done the right thing by not announcing his retirement,” said Shoaib. “He has been really impressive and there is still that hunger in him, so it would be good for Pakistan if he hung around for another year with important away assignments in England and Australia coming up.”
Published in The Express Tribune, November 6th, 2015.
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