The Pakistan vs England test series starts tomorrow at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium, and its not just any series for Pakistan. Its a test series with a lot of significance. Its about coming full circle from what started in 2010. Its about playing the number 1 test side in the world. Its about proving to the doubters that the last year was not about beating lesser sides, but about a resurgent team that has been playing the best test cricket it has played in a long long time.
It all started with Shahid Afridi being appointed as test captain in mid 2010 just before the series against Australia, which was played in England.
Afridi retired after being in charge for just the 1st test against Australia before Salman Butt took over for the 2nd and final test of the series. In Salman's first test as captain, Pakistan beat Australia in a test after over a decade and they ended up drawing the test series against the former number 1 test team.
What followed was disaster.
A 3-1 drubbing at the hands of England and the spot fixing scandal, which we all are trying to forget. Things seemed extremely bleak for Pakistan after that series. There was a man that had retired after being in charge for just 1 test match. There was another who was thought to lead Pakistan for a long time into the future, but faced a ban from cricket due to his involvement in spot fixing. Pakistan had lost its pace spearheads to the cricket underworld.
The team and the country were in shambles. There seemed to be no coming back from what had had happened.
However, what followed was a turnaround that no one would have expected.
Misbah Ul Haq returned to the team and this time as test captain. There were doubters all over the place. A man whose career seemed over was not only back in the team but also leading it.
Misbah's first test in charge, and Pakistan's first test since the spot fixing scandal, was against South Africa in a two test series in Abu Dhabi.
Pakistan drew 0-0.
Since then, Pakistan has beaten New Zealand, Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe, and Bangladesh in test series, and drawn against the West Indies.
Pakistan have not lost a test series under Misbah and they have lost only 1 test match since Misbah has taken over.
Since that Australia series, Pakistan have only lost to England, having drawn with or beaten all other opposition.
They have played against all test nations except for India, and they have proven that they are at par with all of them, if not better.
So this series against England is all about redemption for what happened during the summer of 2010, its all about showing those doubters that Pakistan can do just as well against the top test teams.
England might be number 1 in the test rankings, but Pakistan has one of the best test records amongst all teams over the last 18 months.
England might have a very strong top 6, but Pakistan also has a stable batting line up that has consistently performed over the last 18 months.
England might have a strong bowling line up, but Pakistan has the best test spinner in the world and a pace attack that can use conditions in Dubai and Abu Dhabi to their full advantage.
England will not be taking Pakistan lightly, and I suggest that all the doubters don't either. This test series is going to be one of the biggest ones for Pakistan and it will show everyone just how good a test team we really are.