A win’s a win, right? Nope. England can understandably be ultra tubthumping in their celebrations of a 74-run victory for the ages on the final evening of a remarkable Test against Pakistan in Rawalpindi.
On a pitch that yielded 1768 runs for the match, the third-highest aggregate in history, the visitors’ bold declaration at tea on a penultimate day gave them four sessions in which to claim 10 wickets with Pakistan needing 343 to win.
It went down to the wire, with five wickets still needed after tea on Monday and a quick-sinking sun making its way ominously toward the horizon.
But Ben Stokes and his men grasped the challenge and two wickets in two overs by Player of the Match Ollie Robinson, followed by two wickets in as many balls to James Anderson gave them the stranglehold they needed.
Robinson and Anderson took four wickets each in Pakistan’s second innings but it was spinner Jack Leach who clinched the final one – that of Naseem Shah – with what could only have been minutes remaining to seal victory in England’s first Test appearance in Pakistan for 17 years.
Centuries to newcomer Harry Brook, Zak Crawley, Ollie Pope and Ben Duckett – returning after six years outside the Tests fold – in England’s record first innings of 657 were brought into context on the flattest of tracks as Pakistan produced three of their own in containing the tourists’ advantage to 78 runs, Will Jacks claiming six wickets on debut. Then came another Brook star turn, his rapid-fire 87 off 65 balls the highlight of England’s second innings, upstaged only by the Stokes’ surprise decision to declare.
But it all came down to the last day – and the final 90 minutes of it.
Having finally coaxed an aging ball to reverse after lunch, England was vindicated in their decision not to take the new one which became available three overs after tea.
Summarized scores: England 657 (Brook 153, Crawley 122, Pope 108, Duckett 107) and 264 for 7 Dec (Brook 87, Root 73, Crawley 50) beat Pakistan 579 (Babar 136, Imam 121, Shafique 114, Jacks 6-161) and 268 (Shakeel 76, Anderson 4-36, Robinson 4-50) by 74 runs