On 14th August, when the whole nation was celebrating its 70th Independence Day, Pakistan cricket team doubled its happiness by winning the fourth Test against England at the Oval, which leveled the series 2-2.
The Oval is a lucky venue for Pakistan as they have won more Tests there than they have lost (5-3).
In their last seven Tests at Oval Pakistan have won four and drawn two. The only defeat came in 2006 when they forfeited the game despite being in a good position after a controversy with umpire Darrell Hair. Interestingly it was the ninth time in the last 10 series when Alastair Cook & company failed to win their final match at home. After losing the second and third Tests it was a remarkable recovery at the Oval, brought about by a double hundred from Younis Khan, his sixth in Tests, and a five-wicket haul by Yasir Shah, his sixth in 16 Tests.
Younis had started the series in fifth position in the ICC Test batsmen list but had dropped out of the top 10 following the third Test at Edgbaston when he slipped from ninth position.
But with his double hundred Younis has returned to the elite top-five club of Test batters. Before starting the fourth Test Younis was on 11th position with India’s Ajinkya Rahane.
Younis’s failure in the first three Tests had frustrated the team management, but skipper Misbah-ul-Haq was confident that his most experienced teammate still had a lot in him.
Now Younis, with 32 Test centuries, is the ninth on the list of batsmen with most Test hundreds. If he scores two more hundreds he will be at the fifth place.
Younis now has 9,456 runs in 108 Tests, at a career average of 53.72. He needs 544 runs to become the first Pakistani with 10,000 runs in Test cricket.
With a five-wicket haul in the second innings, Yasir’s wickets tally reached 95 in 16 Tests.
At Lord’s, Yasir registered his name in the record books as he surpassed Australia’s Charlie Turner’s 123-year-old record for most wickets in the first 13 Test matches.
The leg-spinner is the fastest Pakistani to reach 50 Test wickets. He achieved this accomplishment in his ninth Test. Yasir Shah’s 58 wickets are the most by any leg-spinner in their first 10 Tests. The previous highest was 57 by Australia’s Clarrie Grimmett.
After the drawn Test series, Pakistan remained third in the world Test rankings but when Sri Lanka whitewashed Australia in their home series last week, Australia slipped from first to third position with 108 points in the ICC Test Team rankings. Currently India are on top with 112 points and Pakistan have moved to the second with 111 points.
To retain the first position, India must win the fourth Test against West Indies. If India failed to beat the home team in Trinidad, Pakistan will become the No. 1 ranked Test side — for the first time.
Misbah has said his team deserves to be the No. 1 Test side as Pakistan is the only side in the world that has not played a single Test at home for six years.
“We are out of the country all the time. There are a lot of tours and even our home series are in the UAE. We go from West Indies to New Zealand to Australia. It’s not easy. But still the team is winning. Still the team is playing competitive cricket. I’m really proud of this team and I think that, if we can be No. 1 after all these results in difficult conditions, then we really deserve that,” said the skipper after the Test series.
Pakistan did level the series, but English batsmen dominated the score books. Top three scorers were all English: Joe Root on top with 512 runs, averaging 73.14, Cook (423) and Bairstow (366) runs.
Younis was the most successful batsman for Pakistan with 340 runs at an average of 48.57.
England’s Chris Woakes was the highest wicket-taker with 26 scalps at an average of just 16.73. Yasir took 19 wickets for Pakistan, averaging 40.73.