MULTAN: England have an unassailable 2-0 series lead after winning the second Test against Pakistan and have leapfrogged the hosts in the ICC World Test Championship standings to reach the fifth spot.
England secured a narrow win after impressive bowling on Day four as Pakistan collapsed from 290/5 to 328 all out.
Pakistan, who had a good chance of securing top WTC standings before the series find themselves in difficulty as they have slipped to No. 6 on the table.
They have lost two back-to-back Tests from positions of strength. In both cases, the results could have gone either way with Pakistan having the home advantage but England eventually prevailed.
They lost the first Test in Rawalpindi – a veritable run-fest until England took the bold decision of declaring and setting Pakistan a target of 343. But despite fighting knocks from the middle order, the hosts were bowled out for 268, giving England one of their greatest away Test wins.
The second Test in Multan was Pakistan’s chance to get back. The runs tally was significantly lower and a A target of 355 with two days left should have been gettable with Pakistan’s strong batting line-up and for the most part, the hosts looked in control with crucial partnerships building the innings.
Needing 157 with six wickets in hand on Day 4 with Saud Shakeel on the crease, the hosts had their task cut out. They lost Faheem Ashraf early but Mohammad Nawaz paired up with Shakeel to share a crucial 80-run stand.
With 65 more needed, a victory seemed within grasp but Mark Wood dismissed Nawaz and Shakeel in back-to-back overs to trigger Pakistan’s collapse. From 290/5, they were all out on 328, giving England a 26-run victory in the second Test.
Now at the sixth position with a PCT of just 42.42 per cent, Pakistan seem to be in trouble. Not only will they have to win the next Test but also beat New Zealand when they tour Pakistan next month and hope for other results to go their way.
Australia’s win against West Indies yesterday has consolidated their position at the top with 75 per cent PCT. India at No 4 are in contention with their two-Test series against Bangladesh beginning this week and a big one with Australia coming up next year.
South Africa look secure on No. 2 for now but with an important series in Australia coming up, they would not want to relinquish their hold.
Brief Scores: Pakistan: 202 and 328 (Saud Shakeel 94, Imam-ul-Haq 60, Mark Wood 4/65) lost to England: 281 and 275 (Harry Brook 108, Ben Duckett 79, Abrar Ahmed 4/120) by 26 runs. (ANI)