Friday, July 29, 2016

What a disaster at Old Trafford

I have very good memories from my time in Manchester. Really amazing ones. However, this past week in Manchester is something I would like to wipe out from memory.

It was a disaster.

After the euphoria of the win at Lords, Pakistan turned out with the worst performance in tests in a very long time. To put it into perspective, England's win at Old Trafford was their 5th largest victory in tests in terms of runs, and their 2nd largest against Pakistan!

After 6 wins and a draw in 7 tests against England, Pakistan finally succumbed to a defeat.

The biggest reason, in my opinion, for this change in fortunes was the toss. In the past 7 tests that resulted in 6 wins for Pakistan, they had batted first in all tests except one.

Despite losing the toss, I did not think that Pakistan would be defeated this badly.

If anyone had told me that England would beat Pakistan at Old Trafford, I would not have placed my money on them given how they had played against Pakistan's attack in the previous 7 tests.

England's batting line up in this test series is quite weak. Their middle order is nonexistent and Bairstow is not the same against this Pakistan attack as he was against Sri Lanka.

England's batting line up starts with Alastair Cook and ends with Joe Root, who Pakistan were able to tame at Lord's.

However at Old Trafford it was different ball game. Root was a man on a mission and he played one of the best test innings I have seen in a long time.

Root's innings was all about learning from past mistakes, application, determination, and dominance.

It was a true blue test classic.

Root's match aggregate of 335 was only 97 runs less than what Pakistan's 22 batsmen collectively scored at Old Trafford.

Pakistan's batting has always been vulnerable, however this test team has been different. Azhar, Younis, Misbah, Asad, and Sarfraz have been more consistent than any Pakistan number 3-7 in the past. For them to struggle across two innings has been rare. Yet, one can still fathom their failure because we have been accustomed to it.

What is quite unfathomable is how toothless Yasir Shah and the rest of Pakistan's attack were at Old Trafford. Yasir had just accomplished a rare feat at Lord's and climbed to the top of bowling rankings, but Root brought him back down to earth - from number 1 to number 5 in the rankings - that is how poor a test match Yasir had.

This Pakistan team though is not one to fall without a fight.

Two remaining tests promise to be thrilling ones. With the series level, there is everything to play for. Pakistan's batsman will have to rise to the challenge. Misbah and Asad require more support from the likes of Hafeez, Azhar, and Younis, who despite starts have been unable to convert their scores into big ones. They are all due and there won't be better opportunities than at Edgbaston and the Oval.

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