Alastair Cook and England put a full stop to all the doubts surrounding their inability to play spin, particularly leg-spinner Yasir Shah by registering an authoritative 330-run victory over Pakistan at Old Trafford in the second Test.
England were solid from the word go and in many ways already looked to have the match won on the first day when Cook led from the front with a sublime hundred, the 29th of his career. The in-form Joe Root remained unbeaten on 141 in England’s tally of 314/4 at stumps.
Pakistan’s first Test hero Yasir Shah looked hapless and his toil continued into Day 2, when Root and others took him to the cleaners.
Root’s magnificent 254 paved the way and with some useful contributions from Chris Woakes, Jonny Bairstow and Ben Stokes down the order, England piled up a massive 589/8 before they declared their first innings.
It was always going to be tough for Pakistan, but no one expected them to crumble like they did late on Day 2 and in the morning session on Day 3. England’s bowling attack was bolstered by the addition of their premier swing bowler James Anderson and all-rounder Ben Stokes.
The bowler who did the most damage for England though, was Chris Woakes who just can’t do anything wrong at the moment. With the opening pair not contributing, Azhar Ali and Younis Khan’s slump in form and a middle order collapse, it was too much to do for the captain Misbah and the tail.
Misbah-ul-Haq’s resilience and Wahab Riaz’s cameo though, somehow helped Pakistan scratch their way to 198.
With a huge lead of 391 runs, all eyes were on Cook but to everyone’s surprise he didn’t enforce the follow-on in spite of rain looming.
England would bat for all of 2.4 overs before rain stopped play. With a resumption of play, England were a commanding 1 for 98 at stumps.
On day 4, England increased their scoring rate to set things up and at 1 for 173, declared their innings and set Pakistan an improbable 565 runs to win.
It was the same old story for Pakistan though. Their Openers once again failed to click collectively before Younis Khan, Misbah ul-Haq and Asad Shafiq all got starts, but not a single batsman was successful to convert that start into something substantial.
Pakistan’s innings was finally ended on 234 and wickets were shared by Anderson, Woakes and Ali who have three each.
It was a remarkable victory for England, while Pakistan find themselves with a cluster of problems moving forward.
Collective failure of the openers, poor form Azhar Ali and veteran Younis Khan and the dent in the confidence of their leggie Yasir Shah after the hammering he went through are just some of the issues Pakistan need to sort out before they play in Birmingham.