A contest featuring Pakistan mostly involves a sub-battle between their bowlers and the opposition batsmen. This is not to say that Pakistan lack batting talent, but their bowling prowess often stands out for they keep producing match-winning bowlers out of nowhere. In the Tests as well, it were the bowlers who set up the series for Pakistan although due credit should also be given to the veteran batsmen like Mohammad Hafeez, Younis Khan and Misbah-ul-Haq. In the one-dayers as well, the bowlers were expected to perform the major role, but they could not repeat the success of the longer formats for England’s batsmen were much superior this time.
While both England’s batting and bowling were better than Pakistan in the one-dayers, their batsmen definitely deserve more of the credit for pulling off a surprise triumph for the team in unfamiliar conditions. The series did not begin on a bright note for England as their batsmen crumbled in the first game, but they found match-winners in each of the subsequent games. Alex Hales’ hundred in the second match was extremely crucial as it not only gave the batsman’s career a new lease of life, but also gave England the confidence that they could stand up to Pakistan’s bowlers.
England only improved from thereon. James Taylor played a key innings to take the visitors home in the third match to give the team a much-needed 2-1 lead in the four match series. This was the same game in which Jos Buttler spend some time at the crease, and got an important unbeaten 49. But, it was in the final match that Buttler really came into his own. He displayed his wide range of strokes as Pakistan’s bowlers were taken to the cleaners at Dubai. It was a decisive knock that stood out as the difference between the two sides.
There were some good supporting acts from England’s batsmen that also helped tilt the scales in the visitors’ favour. Jason Ray got a hundred and a fifty in the series, Joe Root and James Taylor got two half-centuries each while Eoin Morgan also played a couple of handy knocks. In the bowling, England were aided by impressive performances by Chris Woakes and David Willey, and the duo was well supported by Reece Topley. Adil Rashid and Moeen Ali also chipped in with good efforts as England’s overall bowling show was commendable.
In contrast, Pakistan’s bowlers let them down. The experienced pace duo of Mohammad Irfan and Wahab Riaz could not deliver what was expected of them. Above all, leggie Yasir Shah, who ran through England in the Tests, was also disappointing. England dealt with him without a lot of trouble. Pakistan’s batsmen were also in hara-kiri mode. There were three unnecessary run-outs in the third game, and in the must win final match as well, Mohammad Hafeez was run out at a crucial juncture. Their poor running was an indication that they lacked focus, and it was evident in the results.
--By A Cricket Analyst