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When Misbah was made captain after the spot-fixing controversy in 2010, and the team was rebuilt, nobody could anticipate that he would make this team as one of the best in the world.  Having won nine out of 15 matches with only one loss and matching the performance of the most successful captains in history of Pakistan, the foremost credit of this victory should go to Misbahul Haq, who kept the team’s spirits high facing adversity and led from the front by performing well.

[caption id="attachment_239" align="alignright" width="300"]Pakistan team with yet another trophy; no doubt the most memorable moments since the spot-fixing controversy (Photo: AFP) Pakistan team with yet another trophy; no doubt the most memorable moments since the spot-fixing controversy (Photo: AFP)[/caption]

Dubai, where Pakistan has never lost a match, witnessed many turnarounds in the third and the last Test played there. England took a firm grip on the match by bowling out the opponents on 99. Pakistani bowlers also did their best and England’s first innings ended with 141 runs on the scorecard.

Azhar Ali and Younis Khan worked miracles in the second innings that helped Pakistan amass a total of 365, which meant a target of 324 for England. Chasing it they perished at 252 conceding a historic win to Pakistan.

The wicket presented with strangest of the scenes, where on first day it saw the dismissal of 16 batsmen, the same wicket yielded the  score of 222 runs for the loss of only two wickets on second day for Pakistan. In fact Azhar Ali and Younis Khan played with understanding of the pitch and showed the opposing batsmen the technique to handle it.

It was the rarest of occasions in the Test cricket history that a team finished up victorious in spite of getting out for less than 100 runs in first innings. Last time it happened in 1907 when England defeated South Africa to draw this remarkable achievement. It means for 100 years there had not been any team to win after scoring so low in first innings. But on the one hand, Pakistani bowlers got England out for just 141 runs and prevented them from taking a big lead and on the other, the batsmen played responsibly. Azhar Ali’s 157 in particular and the experienced Younis’ 127 and the partnership stand of 216 runs between them laid the foundation of Pakistan’s triumph.

[caption id="attachment_238" align="alignright" width="217"]Azhar Ali played career-best innings and got man-of-the-match award (Photo: Getty Images) Azhar Ali played career-best innings and got man-of-the-match award (Photo: Getty Images)[/caption]

This is the second occasion in recent times that a world No. 1 team has to bite the dust with a ‘clean sweep’. In August last year India were humiliated by their hosts during their England tour; now England have to endure the ‘whitewash’ rather ‘greenwash’, if the trending term is used here.

Despite this, there has not been any change in world rankings and Pakistan are still on 5th position. England is still on top, however there has been a significant difference in their rating points.

Anyhow , when on fourth day England resumed their innings from 36 without loss, they had a tough target to achieve while facing Pakistani spinners who had dismantled them for just 72 in the previous Test match. Captain Andrew Strauss could not put on resistance for long and went out lbw against Abdur Rehman and wasted a review as well. While Alistair Cook, after getting two lives form Pakistani fielders, was getting dangerous in partnerships with Jonathan Trott. Saeed Ajmal’s first victim was Trott, who went out for 18 and Pakistan broke this partnership for some relief.

Kevin Pietersen, who had been constantly failing in the series, tried to stand by Cook but Ajmal first bowled Pietersen on a beautiful off break and then got Cook out by Younis Khan’s brilliant catch turning the match in Pakistan’s favor. Ian Bell, who had not performed well in the whole series and Eoin Morgan could only add 37 runs together and returned to pavilion after scoring 10 and 31 runs, respectively.  Umer Gul claimed both wickets in two consecutive overs and thus the little hope for England faded away.

Matt Prior along with Stuart Broad tried to overcome Pakistani bowlers by scoring quickly but Prior did not get much support from the other end. Pakistan kept the pressure on the weaker end and finally the wicket of Monty Panesar by Abdur Rehman at the total of 252 sealed the victory for Pakistan. Prior remained unbeaten at 49 from 58 balls. Saeed Ajmal and Umer Gul claimed four wickets each and Abdur Rehman picked two wickets.

[caption id="attachment_234" align="alignright" width="223"]English batsmen had to hide their face against Pakistan’s bowling – and perhaps rightly so (Photo: AFP) English batsmen had to hide their face against Pakistan’s bowling – and perhaps rightly so (Photo: AFP)[/caption]

Pic: After the dismal performance against Pakistani bowling, English batsmen had to hide their face

Players were jubilant in the field and Pakistanis all over the world celebrated this historic win. Famous social networking site Twitter was trending with #greenwash, #brownwash and #England3-0.

Earlier, Pakistan piled up a total of 365 with memorable performances of Azhar Ali and Younis Khan. This pair of youth and experience put Pakistan into a dominant position. Although last seven wickets of Pakistan scored only 34  runs, they gave the visiting side a target of 324. Their history was not helpful for England to chase a big total in fourth innings against Pakistan. Monty Panesar stood out and picked 5 wickets for second time in series while the other spinner Graeme Swan picked 3. Jimmy Anderson and Stuart Broad got one each.

Pakistan could not come back into match, had it not been for superb bowling performance of Abdur Rehman and Saeed Ajmal, who blocked England from taking a big lead after Pakistan perished at 99 in first innings. Pakistan had won the toss and decided to bat but couldn’t stand long against the destructive spells of Andersen and Broad. Conditions early morning suited the fast bowlers and batsmen seemed to be in a hurry, getting out due to poor shot selection. Asad Shafique’s 45 prevented the lowest ever total of Pakistan as Pakistan’s six batsmen couldn’t get into double figures.

England were on top after this bowling performance where Andersen picked three wickets and Stuart Broad four while Panesar got two wickets and Swann one.  The situation was very serious as the last 100 years’ history did not witness any event where a team had won a Test after scoring less than 100 in their first innings.  But Pakistani bowlers not only brought Pakistan back into game, they also provided the required impetus for the batting lineup to perform well and get Pakistan into a dominating position.

Besides Andrew Strauss’ 56 and Jonathan Trott’s 32, no other English batsmen performed beyond ordinary. The hero of previous match Abdur Rehman picked five wickets while Ajmal got three and Gul two. When England collapsed after Pakistan, it seemed that the match would not last more than three days as 20 wickets had fallen in one and a half days play but Pakistani batsmen played sensibly.

In this historic series where spinners dictated terms, umpires too were in serious test due to DRS but only few decisions were overturned and a record 43 lbws were declared in the test, which also reflects their fine professional performance.

Azhar Ali was named the man of the match for his 157, and Ajmal was given the award of  man of the series  for his 24 wickets.

Since the spot-fixing scandal in August 2010, Pakistan have not lost any Test series, although they have faced South Africa, Sri Lanka and world No. 1 England as well. This magnificent performance under the leadership of Misbah ul Haq signifies the splendid change this team has gone through. The resilience shown by the team was astonishing for many cricket experts. The way Pakistan came back into game after getting out at 99 runs in first innings heralds the journey to top for the national cricket team.
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