Saturday 21 April 2018

Pakistan seal draw in style with crushing Oval victory

England Head Coach Trevor Bayliss. Photo: Paul Childs/Action Images via Reuters
England Head Coach Trevor Bayliss. Photo: Paul Childs/Action Images via Reuters

Chris Stocks

For Trevor Bayliss, England's Australian coach, the honeymoon period is most definitely over after a 10-wicket defeat on the fourth day of this final Test that saw Pakistan deservedly draw the series 2-2.

Misbah-ul-Haq and his team had started the summer in style, winning the opening Test at Lord's. They finished it with a crushing 10-wicket win, sealed with a towering six from Azhar Ali that saw the tourists cruise to their target of 40 inside 13 overs.

In between, England seized control of the series with wins at Old Trafford and Edgbaston. Ultimately, though, they just weren't good enough to finish off the job at The Oval.

Bayliss started last summer with an Ashes victory and followed it up with a landmark Test series success in South Africa. Both those wins exceeded expectations and even the 2-0 defeat by Pakistan in the UAE in between was not a surprise.

However, this is the first series under Bayliss where England have come up short. The low-key 2-0 win against Sri Lanka at the start of the summer concealed a multitude of sins.

Now, despite the goodwill fostered by England's resurgence in limited-overs cricket, Bayliss will have to address the reasons why his Test team have stalled.

Yasir Shah, whose haul of five for 71 speeded up England's second-innings demise here, was one; Younis Khan's magnificent double hundred that set up this game for Pakistan another.

Yet it is the problems closer to home Bayliss will need to address before England embark on a seven Test tour in Bangladesh and India.

Yasir's success in this match, not to mention his 10 wickets at Lord's, has shown up the limitations of Moeen Ali as a bowler. In India, where England face five Tests, Moeen will be tested like never before.

The top six, though, is the real area of concern and its weakness was the reason for defeat here.

A first-innings total of 328 was never enough and the way Yasir sliced through the top order during England's second innings on the third evening - removing Alex Hales, James Vince and Joe Root - extinguished any hopes of a recovery.

When they were winning series as they did against South Africa in the winter and Sri Lanka earlier this summer, the top six was a problem that could be put on the back-burner.

This series has not been won and, save for vital contributions from Jonny Bairstow and Moeen, those batting frailties might have seen them lose it.

Irish Independent

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