SportsVolume 12 Issue # 09

Oval Test triumph — a befitting Independence Day gift for nation

The Pakistan cricket team bounced back superbly in the Oval Test to square the 4-match Test series against the hosts England on August 14 – the National Day of Pakistan. This was Pakistan’s first Test series in England since the controversial 2010 tour. By winning the Oval Test match by 10 wickets, Pakistan cricket team provided a suitable Independence Day gift to their depressed people on the auspicious occasion of August 14. The victory saw Pakistan end the four-match series all square at 2-2 on an Oval ground where they won their first Test match in England back in 1954. England, 88 for 4 on the third day, were dismissed for 253 in their second innings, with Shah taking five for 71 in 29 overs after Jonny Bairstow top-scored with 81.
That left Pakistan needing just 40 to win after excellent hundreds by man-of-the-match Younis Khan (218) and Asad Shafiq (109) had helped them compile a commanding first-innings total of 542.
Azhar Ali (30 not out) ended the match by hitting Moeen Ali for a straight six as Pakistan finished on 42 without loss. Young left-hand opener Sami Aslam was 12 not out as Pakistan bounced back from their 141-run defeat in the third Test at Edgbaston in style. Traditionally regarded as the season-ending Test centre in almost every English summer, The Oval has proved to be very lucky venue for green flag-bearers. Pakistan have a better head-to-head record at The Oval than any other visiting side. Out of the 10 Tests played so far, Pakistan have secured five victories and lost three. Australia, England’s biggest rivals, have won just seven and lost as many as 16 in 37 Tests at The Oval.

The West Indies have won six and lost seven of their 16 Tests at this venue, New Zealand won only once and lost four in nine Oval Tests, India have also won just one and lost four in 12 matches, while South Africa’s only success in 14 appearances (six defeats) at this venue came four years ago. Overall, England have been victorious in 40 Tests at The Oval, while finishing on the losing side 22 times with remaining 37 of the 99 matches drawn.
After demonstrating wonderful team spirit in England, Pakistan cricketers must bring consistency in their performance in their next important cricket series. It’s pertinent to mention here that Pakistan are going to face strong a Australian team in near future.
As far as talent and strength are concerned, the Pakistan team is enriched with of the finest players. They can beat any side in the world at any venue. And in the past, Pakistan cricketers have performed this feat on several occasions. They just need to believe in their abilities. Remember, Pakistan team presented some shaky performances in the 2nd and 3rd Test matches of the series.

Former captain Younis Khan, Asad Shafiq, leg-spinner Yasir Shah and pacer Sohail Khan had a major contribution in Pakistan’s morale boosting win over England.
Pakistan remain third in the world Test rankings but, following this win, could rise to number one if results in ongoing Test matches in Sri Lanka and the West Indies go their way.
Younis’ 308-ball knock of 218 included 31 fours and four sixes. With this innings, Younis’ tally of total number of fours hit in his 108-match career so far reaches 1,027. Younis’ heroics at The Oval was his sixth 200-plus score, making him stand at No. 9, shoulder-to-shoulder with Pakistan great Javed Miandad, in the list of batsmen with most double hundreds in Test cricket.
The veteran batsman, with 32 Test tons to his credit, is the ninth on the list of batsmen with most Test hundreds. Younis has so far scored 9,456 runs in 108 Tests at a career average of 53.72. He needs 544 more runs to have his name included in the list of those who have scored past 10,000 runs in the game’s most-challenging format.
Yasir’s career wickets tally stood at 95 scalps in 16 Tests following a five-wicket haul in the second innings at The Oval.

The 30-year-old Swabi-born Yasir spearheaded Pakistan’s bowling attack by taking key wickets of Alex Hales, Joe Root, James Vince, Moeen Ali and Stuart Broad.
After the first Test at Lord’s, Yasir registered his name in the record books as he surpassed Australian seamer Charlie Turner’s 123-year-old record for most wickets after 13 Test matches. Yasir achieved the feat in his splendid six-wicket innings haul on the third day at Lord’s. He became the first leg-spinner to achieve the feat in 83 years.
Earlier, in the first Test at Lord’s, Yasir Shah marked his first Test outside of Asia and the United Arab Emirates by taking 10 wickets in the match as Pakistan beat England by 75 runs in their series opener. Leg-spinner Shah took 10 for 141, including a second-innings haul of four for 69.
His return, which surpassed Waqar Younis’ previous Test-match best for Pakistan at Lord’s of eight for 154, was central to the tourists going 1-0 up in the four-match series.
Mohammad Amir in his first Test appearance since he was given a five-year ban for his part in the 2010 spot-fixing scandal at Lord’s – Pakistan’s last Test at “the home of cricket” – ended the match when he bowled last man Jake Ball.

Victory prompted the whole Pakistan team to perform several press-ups in front of Lord’s Pavilion – a reference to their pre-tour military boot camp.
Misbahul Haq dedeicated the team win to philanthropist Abdul Sattar Edhi, who passed away last week. Army chief General Raheel Sharif congratulated him for the historic win.
Earlier in the second Test at Manchester, James Anderson marked his return to international duty with three wickets as England beat Pakistan by a massive 330 runs to win the second Test at his Old Trafford home ground.

Pakistan, set a mammoth 565 for victory, were bowled out for 234 in their second innings after tea on the fourth day. This was England’s fifth-biggest Test win in terms of runs but England’s joy in levelling the four-match series at 1-1 was tempered by the sight of all-rounder Ben Stokes going off injured in Monday’s second session. England’s Joe Root, who made a Test-best 254 in a mammoth first innings 589 for eight declared, was named man-of-the-match. The first innings also saw England captain Alastair Cook make 105 – his 29th Test hundred.England’s two senior batsmen combined again in a second-innings total of 173 for one declared.
In the 3rd Test at Birmingham, Moeen Ali starred with both bat and ball as England beat Pakistan by 141 runs to win the third Test at Edgbaston ground. Victory left England, 103 runs behind on first innings, 2-1 up in the four-match series.

Pakistan, set a huge target of 343 for victory after England declared on 445 for six early on Sunday’s final day, were dismissed for 201.
Man-of-the-match Ali, who earlier, struck a quickfire 86 not out – his second fifty of the match – sealed England’s win when the off-spinner caught and bowled Sohail Khan.