Ben Stokes‘ decision to declare England’s second innings with four sessions to go on Sunday turned out to be a masterstroke as the three lions scripted a memorable victory against Pakistan in the first Test at Pindi Cricket Stadium on Monday.
Pakistan scored 579 in reply to England’s massive total of 657 before the tourists declared their second innings at 264/7, giving the home side a target of 343 runs to win the Test. At the end of Day 4, Pakistan were 80/2 in their run-chase, and they still needed 263 runs to win, with eight wickets remaining and three sessions to spare.
On the final day, Imam ul Haq and Saud Shakeel formed a 61-run partnership for the fourth wicket, which was then followed by Shakeel forging an 87-run stand with Mohammad Rizwan for the fifth wicket. But English bowlers kept striking at regular intervals, and the hosts were eventually bowled out for 268, with James Anderson and Ollie Robinson picking four wickets each.
For Pakistan, it was surely a heartbreak as they didn’t just go down in the three-match series; their chances of making it into the World Test Championship (WTC) 2021-23 final suffered a major blow, which interestingly boosted India’s chances.
Notably, Pakistan were placed in the fifth spot of the WTC points table before the start of the series against England. The had a realistic opportunity of qualifying for the final as the Babar Azam-led side was scheduled to play three Tests at home against England and two against New Zealand. However, a defeat in the three-match series opener against the English team meant that Pakistan’s chances to book a place in the WTC final comfortably took a huge hit.
Pakistan still stand fifth in the table, though, and wins for Australia or India in their respective upcoming Test series will eliminate Pakistan’s chances. If India clean sweep Bangladesh in their upcoming two-match leg, they can afford to lose at least one of their Tests at home against Australia and still have the chance to make the final. Similarly, if Australia whitewash West Indies and win two of their Tests against South Africa, they would also have the chance to make the final.
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