|Ground:||Kennington Oval, Kennington|
|Scorecard:||England v Pakistan|
|Player:||Yasir Shah, Azhar Ali, GS Ballance, JM Bairstow, MM Ali|
|Event:||Pakistan in England and Ireland 2016|
By Andy Jalil at KIA Oval
Pakistan level the series with comfortable victory over England
London Pakistan turned the tide after two heavy defeats in the series registering a convincing win by ten wickets, with a day to spare in the final Test of the summer to go with their 75-run win in the first Test and levelled the series at 2-2. It was an excellent team effort but the outstanding performances came from Younis Khan with a marvellous double century and Asad Shafiqs three-figure innings. While Sohail Khan had a brilliant five wicket haul for 68 in the first innings, Yasir Shah spun his way to five for 71 in the second innings.
With England dismissed for 253 in the second innings Pakistan began the chase of their modest victory target of 40 runs, 26 minutes before tea. Sami Aslam, 7, and Azhar Ali, 9, reduced the target to 24 before the break. Finally just 6.1 further overs were required in the final sessions to wrap up the match with the winning hit coming in flamboyant style with a six over long-on by Azhar to remain unbeaten with 30 while Aslam was on 12 taking the total to 42 without loss.
The Oval is the ground on which Pakistan have put on some memorable performances dating back to their first ever series in England in 1954, two years after achieving Test status. Their victory then by 24 runs, in which the legendary Fazal Mahmood had match figures of 12 for 99, was the first by a Test side playing their first series in England. Their victory in this Test was their second consecutive on this ground after 2010 when Pakistan won by four wickets, chasing a target of 147.
That Test had followed the infamous one in 2006 which was abandoned on the fourth day when Pakistan refused to take the field after tea with umpire Darrell Hair controversially penalising Pakistan for scuffing the ball. It was the first time in cricket history that a Test had been abandoned for a team refusing to take further part.
England had a major task when they resumed their second innings on the fourth day on 88 for four and trailing by a substantial margin of 126 runs. It took Pakistan ten overs before they were able to claim the first wicket of the day when Gary Ballance, having added 13 to his 4 runs overnight was held behind off Sohail Khans fourth ball. He had been brought on to bowl after Wahab Riaz had been warned for the second time in the innings for running on the pitch.
Ballance and Jonny Bairstow had added 54 for the fifth wicket and then Bairstow formed another good stand with Moeen Ali as they put on 65 before Moeen was dismissed seven balls before lunch when he edged Yasir to the wicket-keeper pushing a shot with no foot movement. During the stand Bairstow had brought up his second half century of the match and the tenth in Tests from 72 balls. He had earlier played the most beautiful cover drive off Riaz when he took his score to 35.
England lost the next two wickets on the score of 209 with Chris Woakes, the non-striker, run out when Bairstow sent him back in attempting a first run. The direct hit from Riaz, the bowler, did not require a review. The next ball brought the dismissal of Bairstow on 81, from 127 balls when a very casual-looking drive from him was easily held at cover b Azhar Ali giving Riaz his second wicket.
Shortly before Stuart Broads reverse sweep was held by Younis Khan for 5 off Yasir, which gave him five for 62 at that point, England had wiped off the deficit of 214 from the first innings and gone into the lead by seven runs. At that stage James Anderson joined Finn for the last wicket and they enjoyed themselves for half-an-hour hitting 32 from 43 balls until Anderson was lbw to Iftikhar Ahmed for 17 leaving his lanky partner not out with 16. In an hour-and-a-half between lunch and the end of the England innings four wickets had fallen for 59 runs from 21.2 overs.
(Article: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author only.
Copyright © 2016 Andy Jalil)