England v Pakistan, 4th npower Test, Lord's, 3rd day August 28, 2010

England reap rewards of game-changing stand

After Pakistan's abject capitulation possibly the most peculiar Test series of recent times is set to come to a fittingly baffling conclusion

Pakistan have been in this position before. At Sharjah in October 2002, Waqar Younis's men were brushed aside for a pathetic pair of totals - 59 in the first innings, 53 in the second - as Australia rumbled to victory by an innings and 198 runs inside two days. To paint that performance in an even less forgiving light, Matthew Hayden alone would have won by an innings and seven runs, after putting the match beyond reach with a furiously determined 119.

Now at Lord's a similar fate beckons, although the ignominy threatens to be all the more overwhelming, given the grand stage on which this contest is being played out. Pakistan's first-innings 74 was less than half the total racked up by either of England's centurions, Jonathan Trott and Stuart Broad, and at 41 for 4 in an abject second innings, all vestiges of resistance appear to have been squeezed from their game. All told Pakistan have shipped 14 wickets in the space of 48.3 overs - the equivalent of a session-and-a-half. England's eighth-wicket stand alone, by contrast, lasted exactly twice as long.

England's defeat at The Oval seems all the more anomalous after a day like this, but then again, how different would this match have been had Pakistan managed to move in for the kill on that extraordinary second morning? First at 47 for 5, and then at 102 for 7, England's innings - and their series victory - lay on the brink of utter ruin, which means that the subsequent efforts of Trott and Broad were not merely record-breaking but match-transforming - more Laxman and Dravid than Jayasuriya and Mahanama.

"I can't say enough about that partnership between Trotty and Broady, that's what has got us in this position," admitted Graeme Swann, who was the chief beneficiary with five wickets for 18 runs, spread across two innings, in the space of nine overs after tea. "At lunchtime yesterday [Friday], the Pakistan top four would all have been mentally rehearsing batting, and the fact they were still doing that six hours later has got to have a very negative effect on them. When wickets are tumbling as they have all summer it can be very hard to stop the rot."

Regardless of the surrender in the Pakistan ranks, it was a thrilling onslaught from England nonetheless. Whereas the atmospheric conditions could be blamed for their previous capitulations at Trent Bridge and Edgbaston, this meltdown owed everything to scoreboard pressure, battered morale, and an up-and-at-'em attitude from a pack of England bowlers who scented blood and stormed in for a clean kill.

James Anderson conceded 16 runs in 15 of the most waspish overs imaginable, backing up the impression that he now knows how to contain as well as attack, and while Swann and Steven Finn scalped seven wickets inside an hour after tea, it was Broad with his dander up who was the most influential member of the attack in those crucial early stages, as he huffed and puffed on a full and furious length, and reprised the big bad wolf role that routed Australia so memorably in the final Test of the 2009 Ashes. Three top-four wickets for 19 in ten overs was the net result - there wasn't time for him to go any better than that.

For the third time in four Tests this series, an English victory now seems pre-ordained with more than a day of the match to spare, and the speed with which Pakistan boarded their team bus and fled to their team hotel in Swiss Cottage - without even loitering to speak to Sky's TV cameras - summed up the extent to which they've mentally checked out of this contest. Not even Mohammad Yousuf, who fell twice in 23 balls and at times seemed lucky to do that well, could arrest the slide towards ignominy.

"To get them four-down at the close definitely puts us in the box seat," said Swann, with the sort of understatement that is rarely his preserve. "But tomorrow it will be harder to get the wickets. The sun will be out in the morning, a few of their guys will have a night to sleep on it and mentally prepare to bat, and as it showed this morning, it's a very nice place to bat when the sun's out."

Few would care to share Swann's cautious assessment of the contest, however. At some stage on Sunday, the Sharjah rout seems certain to have found a new bedfellow. And possibly the most peculiar Test series of recent times will have come to a fittingly baffling conclusion.

Andrew Miller is UK editor of Cricinfo.

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Hanah on August 30, 2010, 7:32 GMT

    @ Vichan: That's very true. @ Bulla: You should be ashamed of yourself for putting a few match fixing no balls up as an excuse. And btw, odds are not important in this case because this was a one in a million situation. Sometimes such a situation occurs. Deal with it.

    Shame that the England batsmen (especially Broad) don't get the credits for their outstanding batting performance because some blind fans are screaming that the match was fixed. (while it were only a few no balls)

  • Shubhang on August 29, 2010, 8:54 GMT

    After the match fixing allegations does anybody think this stand can be taken seriously? Just hypothetically, what would be the odds against a 300 run stand for the 8th wicket when a team is 100/7? Someone would stand to make a lot of money.

  • Cricinfouser on August 29, 2010, 6:18 GMT

    As far as I can tell, none of these match fixing allegations extend to the Pakistani batting, just a few no-balls. So any Pakistani fans using that as an excuse for their pathetic performance with bat in hand is only burying their head in the sand and lying to themselves.

  • Prbath on August 29, 2010, 6:03 GMT

    Stuart Broad scored a Century? i show People Saying Pakistan Bowling Attack is the best Attack in the world at the moment on this site couple of days a go, in bowlers friendly tracks even ordinary bowlers can make havoc,

  • Ravi on August 29, 2010, 5:52 GMT

    Pakistan did not resign to fate. They knew their fate. They had fixed it. C'mon you poor Pak lovers (inclusing me), they are shaming you and you hail them..get to the real world, they are not playing for their country. You guys have this habit of showing that you wear your country on your sleeves, but the reality for these Paki cricketers is everything but PAK...they are NA-PAK!! I pity the millions of Paki fans, I really do. The cricket team currently servicing must be dismantled and a new honest team prepared. Even if this means starting from scratch...I am an Indian and I have soft corner for my neighbors..So ita pain in my heart thats coming out here!!

  • varun on August 29, 2010, 4:26 GMT

    Baffling was what this test series offered. Granted, the bowlers were bowling good line and length and was rewarded for their hard efforts. But the new ball has always swung prodigiously in England. This offers no excuse to the batsmen of both teams to be swindled out for below par scores till now (both teams share the blame equally). England escaped a close shave in this test match, thanks largely to Trott and Broad. But overall, all the batsmen from both the teams, with the exception of Trott, have been found wanting in skills required to survive in a Test match, viz. patience, concentration and endurance. The very reason for Pakistan finding itself in another hole, is because their batsmen have been more unimaginative than their English counterparts. The only thing that the test series showcased was the fact that both teams should change their top order with the ones of their A-teams! I think they would have done a better job!!! Truly baffling!

  • Bhaskar on August 29, 2010, 4:21 GMT

    Sorry Andrew, one can never ever agree to put Dravid and Laxman partnerships along with say Mahanama and Jaysuriya partnership. For that matter, any Sri Lankan scorecards including the one between Mahela and Sanga. They are the team backed by a board which refused an international tour for cash rich IPL where almost every SriLankan cricketers failed to do well. Coming back to this test match, well I can only say that, it was fragile English batting that kept Pakistan in the series nothing else. Pakistan are indeed worse than Bangladesh in batting. Being and Indian I was liking Pak cricket team in late nineties and early '00s except when they were playing against India. Now this team does not even have any guts to do something about there shortcomings. It is worth to mention Nasser Hussain's hundred against India at Headinglay or many of great NZ opener Mark Richardson

  • Nataraaj on August 29, 2010, 3:19 GMT

    What a come back by England. 102/7 to 446 great & pak once again recorded another 2 digit low score and heading for innings defeat. PAK cannot be away from controversies- now another match fixing allegation by their players. I think their team manager could have sense it before ,so he offer to resign after the tour. what a shame. This english tour is full of bad performance specially batting, then afridi retirement, team without yusuf & Younis and another mach fixing..

  • Manasvi on August 29, 2010, 0:43 GMT

    They should focus on avoiding an innings defeat first. However, English batting is also no good except for Trott. Broad scored well but he is not a regular batsman. Given the level of batting depth that England has, it helped them.

  • Michael on August 28, 2010, 22:28 GMT

    Most series develope a character/personality of their own, but seldom as much in favour of the ball as this series. Personally I find it preferable to the snore bores played on the slow flat puddings that abound in some countries. The action packed excitement in these games has left me worn out-pleasantly so. Trott's rituals may annoy, but they seem to have served some purpose for his side as he was fairly zoned in on his own work and not too bothered about anything except rescratching his line. Such is real focus. What a knock!!

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