England beat Pakistan by 8 wickets in the third and final test of their series in Karachi.
And, in doing so, they became the first side to win a test series in Pakistan by a margin of 3 – 0. Given that England had never previously won more than one test in a series in the country before, it is a considerable achievement.
And more than the margin of victory, it was the manner of it that impressed most commentators.
Before the series began, captain Ben Stokes promised that his side would continue to play the style of aggressive cricket that has become known as “Bazball”, and that they were prepared to lose games in pursuit of wins.
His side were true to his word.
England set records
This was only the fourth time in their history that England had completed a clean sweep away from home in a test series comprising three matches or more.
It also ended a run of three consecutive test series defeats outside the UK.
Meanwhile, victory in the third test in Karachi was achieved without either Jimmy Anderson or Stuart Broad in the side for the first time since June 2007.
Anderson played in the first two tests but was rested for the third, whilst Broad did not make the tour at all because his fiancée has just had their first child.
Pakistan well beaten but Abraz a bright spot
Over the three matches, Pakistan had no answer and were well beaten in the end. They began the series still with an outside hope of qualifying for the WTC final at The Oval next June. They, though, have been well and truly ended.
However, one of the few bright spots for them was emergence of leg spinner Abraz Ahmed, but who was only called up for the second test, but made an immediate impression, taking seven wickets in England’s first innings, and 11 in the match in all. He followed that up with six more in the third test, and was Pakistan’s leading wicket taker across the series.
England have discovered a leg spinner star of their own
England decided to pick in Karachi leg spinner Rehan Ahmed, at 18 the youngest man to play international cricket for them. And he lived up to expectations, with two wickets in the first innings and five in the second. He looks to have a long test future ahead of him.
Brook makes his mark
Another man to have made his mark in this series is batter Harry Brook. He had only played one test for England before arriving in Pakistan, but, having been part of the side that won the T20 series, he scored a century in each of the tests.
He was another one not afraid to play his shots, and even survived the ignominy of running out in his own captain in the first innings in Karachi, before going on to make three figures.
Stokes’ captaincy praised
Stokes has attracted considerable praise for his captaincy, and his determination to always strive for a positive result. He encouraged his batters to score at a record pace on the first day of the first test in Rawalpindi, leaving his bowlers enough time to take 20 wickets on a pitch that the ICC match referee later described as “sub-standard.”
And, then in Multan, he declared the England second innings at a time that gave Pakistan the hint of a successful victory chase, with his bowlers again putting in a sterling effort to bowl the home time side out with the light fading,
Nor has the burden of captaincy seemed to have affected his overall performances. He was at the crease when the series was finally won, and had just equalled the record of his coach Brendon McCullum, for the number of sixes hit in test cricket (106).
He will have the chance to surpass that when the pair next travel to the country of their respective births, New Zealand, in February.
Tour concludes without a hitch
More broadly, the tour passed without incident from a security perspective.
This was England’s first test series in Pakistan for 17 years, and the fact that they were in the country appeared to be well received by local cricket fans.
Having seen how well this tour went, others may now well soon follow suit, although the conditions politically do not appear right yet for India to visit again.
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