England win another thriller in Pakistan

- colombogazette.com

England pulled off another sensational victory in Pakistan, winning the second Test by 26 runs to seal a historic series triumph.

Mark Wood took three crucial wickets on the fourth day in Multan just as Pakistan were closing in on what would have been a superb chase of 355.

His efforts secured victory for England in their first Test series in Pakistan since 2005 and their first over these opponents outside of the UK in 22 years.

At 290-5, Wood had Mohammad Nawaz caught down the leg side for 45 then, one run later, did the same to dismiss Saud Shakeel for 94, but only after a lengthy deliberation by the third umpire.

Abrar Ahmed was caught at cover off James Anderson and Wood splattered the stumps of Zahid Mahmood at pace in excess of 90mph for his fourth wicket of the innings.

Though Salman Agha kept tension high with regular boundaries, Ollie Robinson had number 11 Mohammad Ali caught behind to leave Pakistan 328 all out.

This is also the first time England have ever won two Tests in an away series against Pakistan.

They will look for a clean sweep in the third and final Test in Karachi, which begins on Saturday.

Before this series, England had only ever won two away Tests to Pakistan in 30 attempts across 61 years. Now, they have won two in a week.

Furthermore, they have followed up the thrilling triumph in the first Test in Rawalpindi with another heart-stopping success in Multan.

However, whereas England rarely felt likely to lose the first Test, this time they got themselves into danger of their own making.

A careless collapse of 5-19 on the third morning opened the door for a Pakistan side with form for impressive chases – in July they knocked off 342 to beat Sri Lanka.

With England’s spinners unable to exert control and the pace bowlers seemingly out of the magic deliveries they produced on Sunday, Pakistan inched closer. A growing crowd at a ground hosting its first Test since 2006 cheered every run.

But Wood, in his first Test since March and bowling with the travelling England fans in the stand behind him, made the telling intervention.

It was not without controversy. TV umpire Joel Wilson took an age looking at replays of Ollie Pope’s diving catch off Shakeel, trying to determine whether or not the ball scraped the ground after the wicketkeeper took in his gloves.

The vital decision went England’s way and Pakistan’s best hope was gone.

Victory gives England their eighth in nine Tests since Ben Stokes took charge, the series win ends a run of three successive defeats away from home.

England have the opportunity for another piece of history in Karachi – never before have Pakistan lost three Tests in a series in their own country.

The loss of Imam-ul-Haq late on Sunday left Pakistan 198-4 overnight, 157 away from victory.

When Joe Root had Faheem Ashraf caught at slip in the sixth over of the fourth day, England were strong favourites.

But Nawaz, whose previous highest Test score was 25, arrived with intent to score. Salman, 54 not out at the beginning of the day, was dragged along.

England cycled through their options. The second new ball was taken, but Pakistan only grew in confidence and fluency. Stokes continued to keep himself out of the attack.

With the game slipping away, Wood hurled down a barrage of short deliveries. When Nawaz gloved through to Pope, it ended a sixth-wicket stand of 80.

One run later, Shakeel did the same and the contentious decision went England’s way.

Abrar, the debutant who claimed 11 wickets with his leg-spin, swung four fours before slapping Anderson to cover.

Salman remained, keeping slim Pakistan hopes alive with back-to-back boundaries off Anderson. In the next over, Wood calmed nerves by bursting through the defence of Mahmood.

Salman hit two more fours off Wood, but Robinson needed only one ball of a new spell to account for Ali and spark England celebrations. (BBC)

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