England expose Pakistan brutally in series-winning effort at Multan in 2nd Test
England brutally exposed Pakistan once again as they hammered the hosts by 26 runs to seal the three-match Test series 2-0 with one more match to be played at Karachi starting this weekend, with the visiting side proving their greater quality in terms of skills and thinking in the longest format of the game, having recently lifted the World Cup trophy in the shortest format beating the same opponent last month.
After producing a lifeless pitch for the opening Test of the series at Rawalpindi last week, Pakistan dished out a turning track in Multan and were also able to capitalise after play ended on the opening day, but an embarrassing batting collapse in the first innings followed by meek display for the rest of the game ensured that they were on the losing side once again.
In what turned out to be a low-scoring but a thrilling contest played at the Multan Cricket Stadium, England proved to be the better side once again despite the home team putting up a much improved performance both with the bat and the ball compared to their ordinary display at Rawalpindi.
The young Abrar Ahmed made an impressive debut taking 11 wickets in his first match itself which included a 7-wicket haul in the first innings.
England continued to pursue an aggressive approach of playing red-ball cricket as they were not perturbed by inroads made by Pakistan on the first day, when they were batting against an unknown entity in the form of Abrar Ahmed.
The young spinner ran riot in their ranks, returning with 22-1-114-7, restricting England to just 281 in the first innings — a total which was far less than what the visitors had got in the first innings of the Rawalpindi Test amassing 657.
For the visitors, opening batsman Ben Duckett (63) and Ollie Pope (60) were the top performers as the others perished despite making promising starts which included captain Ben Stokes (30) and Will Jacks (31). Towards the end, Mark Wood smacked 36 not out from 27 balls which pushed England’s total near to the 300-run mark.
Even though England do not have a spinner who can impose himself as strongly as his Asian counterparts, or as Australia’s Nathan Lyon, there was no dearth of talent to take wickets in the English camp as they shot Pakistan out for just 202, sparking a batting collapse in the opposition ranks who had resumed the second day’s play at 142/2.
Pakistan had the opportunity to bat once and big but they blew it away with some poor batting and ordinary technique against the probing line and lengths of England bowlers. The standout performance came from left-arm spin bowler Jack Leach, who took 4/98 from his 27 overs. For Pakistan, their captain Babar Azam top scored with 75 while Saud Shakeel made a fluent 63, but they could not make the most of the opportunity to take a lead in the first innings against England.
And as they had promised in the press, England came out aggressively against Abrar Ahmed the second time around with Ben Duckett (79) leading the way and Harry Brook (108) showing his class once again. England batted more comfortably in the second innings to finish at 275, thus setting a target of 355 g for Pakistan to win.
Pakistan, at times in the second innings, threatened to take the game away from England but the visiting side kept chipping away with the wickets and just did not allow any partnership to flourish for long enough. The left-handed Saud Shakeel battled hard for his 94 which came from 213 balls and eight boundaries but once he was dismissed, all hopes perished Pakistan who finished just 26 runs short of what would have been a series levelling victory.
Pakistan, who now have lost consecutive home series to Australia and England, will take the field on Saturday, December 17 in the third and final Test looking to salvage pride with pressure mounting on their team management and captain Babar Azam in the wake of consecutive defeats at home.