The end of the second Test came quickly on the third day at Headingley as a second innings collapse from Pakistan gave England their first Test match win since defeating West Indies at Lord’s last September.
Facing a first innings deficit of 189, Pakistan were routed for 134 to lose by an innings and 55 runs. It was a meek surrender from the tourists who undid much of their good work at Lord’s with two poor performances with the bat in this match. The discipline and resilience on show in the capital were sorely missing here and a number of their batsmen, including the experienced pair of Azhar Ali and Sarfraz Ahmed, will not look back at their dismissals today with any fondness.
Overall, it was a strong performance from England but they were fortunate to benefit from helpful bowling conditions on the opening day. Bowling out Pakistan for an under-par 174 set up the win but this was also a more purposeful display than the lacklustre one they mustered at Lord’s. After a run of six defeats from their last eight Tests, this team simply needed a victory, however it came. That it came in such commanding fashion is a bonus but a drawn series at home in May is still a disappointing result.
It was, in many ways, a typical England performance in home conditions. Their bowlers, led by James Anderson and Stuart Broad who picked up two and three wickets respectively today, made good use of helpful conditions and their batting, while not dominating and missing a big score for the top order, scrabbled together enough runs for their bowlers to do their jobs. There were positives in the form of Dom Bess, who finally took his maiden Test wicket, and Jos Buttler while Sam Curran, on debut, did a decent job too but this result does not suddenly make England world beaters. There is still a long way to go.
Pakistan will be deeply frustrated by their effort after such a fine performance at Lord’s and a three-day defeat is a disappointing way to end what has been an otherwise encouraging tour. It should be remembered that this is an inexperienced team but the lack of application with the bat in conditions admittedly more difficult than in the first Test hurt them here. There is talent aplenty in this team but they haven’t showed the best of themselves during the seven sessions of this match.
Buttler played a gem of a hand in the first session, helping advance England’s overnight lead of 128 by a further 61. His last eleven balls yielded 35 runs and he hit two sixes, one a top-edged pull and the other a mighty blow off Ashraf into the building site at the Football Stand end which necessitated a new ball. Had England’s tail been able to stay with him longer, a maiden Test hundred could have been on the cards but James Anderson’s dismissal left England’s number seven on 80 not out.
Buttler’s second half-century in two Tests has been a vindication of Ed Smith’s decision to recall him to the red-ball team. Although he played expansively today, he was measured last evening after an early hoik at the leg-spinner Shadab Khan. This, like his second innings 67 at Lord’s, was no smash-a-thon although Pakistan will rue Hasan Ali’s drop yesterday when Buttler had just four. Had that chance been taken, things might have been very different.
England took three wickets in the eleven overs before lunch as Pakistan failed to obtain the steady start they were hoping for. Azhar Ali, the most accomplished of the tourists’ top order, played all-round a straight one from Anderson to be bowled and ten runs later, Haris Sohail was brilliantly caught by Bess, one handed, diving to his left, at mid-off. When Asad Shafiq was strangled down the leg-side off Broad, Pakistan were in deep trouble.
It was a position from which they never truly recovered. There was a brief recovery after lunch when Imam-ul-Haq and Usman Salahuddin, the debutant, combined nicely in a partnership of 42 but that was ended before it could rescue Pakistan when Bess trapped Imam LBW. From then on it was a procession. Sarfraz was lbw attempting to hit a straight ball from Chris Woakes too square into the leg side and then Shadab fished well outside off-stump to Curran. Faheem Ashraf continued the sequence of batsman error when he tried to slog Dom Bess all the way back to Taunton but simply top edged to short third man.
The poor shots didn’t end there. Salahuddin, who looked compact and disciplined during a 102 ball stay, was the eighth man out when lamely hitting Bess to mid-on and the last two wickets didn’t take too long to wrap up despite some agricultural swishes from the two Mohammads, Abbas and Amir. Pakistan lost their last seven wickets for just 50 runs with Bess claiming three for 33 and while England bowled well enough, Pakistan hardly made them work for their rewards. It was all a bit too easy, just as it has been for the entire game.
Brief scores: Pakistan 174 (Shadab Khan 56; Stuart Broad 3-38, James Anderson 3-43) & 134 (Imam-ul-Haq 34; Stuart Broad 3-28, Dominic Bess 3-33) lost to England 363 (Jos Buttler 80*, Dominic Bess 49; Faheem Ashraf 3-60) by an innings and 55 runs