January 20, 2012

One of Pakistan's greatest victories?

Under Misbah, the batsmen have raised their game to match their bowlers' efforts. If they extend their advantage over England, it might be the start of something big
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After Pakistan's imposing victory in Dubai, England's No. 1 Test ranking is not the only thing under threat. There is also the record for the largest number of Test wins by a Pakistan captain - jointly held for the last two decades by Imran Khan and Javed Miandad with 14 apiece - which Misbah-ul-Haq, with his current trajectory appears headed for.

Another vulnerable target is Pakistan's notoriety as the underachieving bad boys of world cricket, which Misbah and his men are all set to overturn. There are also the reservations from last year that Pakistan had not been tested against top-notch opposition, which will be dealt with if Pakistan can capitalise on their first-Test victory and win the series.

Then there is the spot on the pedestal where Saqlain Mushtaq sits as Pakistan's most hallowed offie. It might be too early to say, but Saeed Ajmal is now threatening to elbow his way on there. Ajmal has come to the party quite late, having made his international debut in 2008, and played his first Test the following year, when has was almost 32. For a while he was considered good only for containment, and therefore a limited-overs specialist. As recently as during the build-up to the 2011 World Cup, he was described by Imran Khan as being better at choking runs than making strikes. But Ajmal, whose Test bowling average, strike rate and economy are all better than Saqlain's at the same stage in his career, is fast getting up there with the man he has idolised and yearned to emulate.

This series has been anticipated as a duel between Ajmal and Graeme Swann, but though Swann's career numbers are better than Ajmal's, the latter has drawn first blood, taking 10 for 97 in the opening Test compared with Swann's 4 for 107. Swann is deeply respected in the Pakistan camp, and with good reason, because his Test average and strike rate against Pakistan are better than those against any other country. Swann has an edge over Ajmal in being able to turn the offbreak more, and having better command of flight, while Ajmal's unique asset is the menacing doosra, which Swann can't bowl.

Until the start of this series, there was also a feeling that Swann's psychological arsenal is more potent than Ajmal's, but after the fuss over the teesra it seems their craftiness is perhaps evenly matched. Ajmal approached the Test in Dubai with an array of postures and pronouncements that recalled the way Bobby Fischer prepared for Boris Spassky in 1972. When these two chess legends met to decide the world title, Fischer's eccentricities spooked Spassky well before the first move on the board. England's capitulation in the first innings, from which they never recovered, was similarly abject. Tied in knots, they surrendered to the mere idea of the weapon. Does the teesra really exist? No, it doesn't. But - especially if you're an England batsman - don't take my word for it.

England may have been caught napping, but Pakistan will expect a backlash in the next Test in Abu Dhabi. Going one-up in a three-Test series is a firm advantage, but on one previous occasion - against Sri Lanka at home in 1995-96 - Pakistan lost a three-game rubber after winning the first Test. That, however, was a different era, rife with player politics and rumours of match-fixing.

With the team cleansed of corruption, and a culture of increasing discipline and focus under Misbah, Pakistan may be able to weather the storm England are planning to brew. Successful batting will be the key. The bowlers have been receiving much of the credit for Pakistan's resurgence - and deservedly so - but figures indicate that the real difference has been in the batting. Comparing the 13 Tests under Misbah with the 13 before them shows that Pakistan have conceded almost the same number of runs (7007 versus 6964) and taken wickets with a more or less similar average (29.07 versus 33.16), but the batting average under Misbah has almost doubled, from 24.30 to 41.80. In other words, Pakistan's bowling was strong before, and continues to be strong under Misbah, but now the batsmen are giving their bowlers enough runs to play with. The result is that Pakistan have won seven of the 13 Tests under Misbah, compared with three wins and eight losses in the 13 previous Tests.

The last time England toured Pakistan, they lost 2-0 in Tests and 3-2 in ODIs. It was the series in which Danish Kaneria and Shoaib Akhtar were on song, Mohammad Yousuf scored a match-winning double-hundred, and Inzamam went past Miandad's record of 24 Test centuries. Afterwards England complained of alien and unhelpful conditions that did not suit their style of play.

England are in a different situation now. They are ambitious about a long reign as the world's top-ranked Test side, which forces them to view Asia as the final frontier, not some exotic backwater. This time around, grumbling about the conditions won't wash. Indeed, excuses of any kind will ring hollow, as the reaction to Bob Willis' questioning of Ajmal's bowling action has already shown.

It would perhaps be hyperbole to suggest that this is one of Pakistan's greatest Test victories, but for now that is certainly the way it feels. If it is possible to be stunned with pleasure, that is what Pakistani fans are at the moment.

Saad Shafqat is a writer based in Karachi

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • POSTED BY Desihungama on | January 23, 2012, 22:36 GMT

    @cric_fan__ - What are you talking about? In last 2 years, Pakistan has beaten England in England (lost series 3-1), Australia in England (Tied 1-1), beat New Zealand in NZ(won 1-0), beat West Indies in WI (Tied 1-1), tied S. A, beat Zimbabwe in Zim, beat Bangladesh in BD. They have won all over except S. A and Australia, last frontiers.

  • POSTED BY mali_jr on | January 23, 2012, 19:55 GMT

    @CricIndia2008, You make me laugh. Pakistan has much better record overeas then India. Pak has better record in india then india have in Pak. Also Pak was the only team to challange WI in their pomp and this includes test series played in WI. If we had neutral umpires back in the 80's, those serier results would have been differnt. I do agree that Pak is bad in Aus and SA.

  • POSTED BY on | January 23, 2012, 14:03 GMT

    @ 5wombats ans Si baker ! Full respect Sir! U two r truly the people with gr8 cricketing knowledge and expertise. I very much respect englishmen and their views on pakistan cricket. England is only second to australia in all time test records and are in their rightful place to be credited as No.1. Both of which are tremendous achievements.

  • POSTED BY on | January 23, 2012, 13:53 GMT

    @ cricindia 208! Our overseas performances recently have been better than urs. Urs have been awful( On the verge of two successive whitewashes). Atleast we drawn with aus in eng and beat eng in a test in eng. Look at ur performances against these two teams.And talking more about away performances Pakistan has been playing away and winning for the last 2 years. From 2000-2012 Pakistan has a better overseas record than india. Just take a look at this link! http://stats.espncricinfo.com/ci/engine/stats/index.html?class=1;home_or_away=2;home_or_away=3;spanmin1=01+Jan+2000;spanval1=span;template=results;type=team First get ur facts together and then comment! Cheers! Cricinfo hasn't been publishing my posts. Cricinfo plz publish.

  • POSTED BY on | January 23, 2012, 13:09 GMT

    PAKISTAN the best team in the cricket history WHO HAVE FACED MANY ups and downs in his cricket career since 1952

  • POSTED BY Team-Ahmed on | January 23, 2012, 7:30 GMT

    Always love reading you!!

  • POSTED BY Team-Ahmed on | January 23, 2012, 7:17 GMT

    Always love reading you!!

  • POSTED BY r1m2 on | January 23, 2012, 5:15 GMT

    Another poorly written (on account of factually incorrect statements) article from this writer. I think Mr. Shafqat's articles should be edited for factual accuracies before published in CI. His statement "... but though Swann's career numbers are better than Ajmal's..." is incorrect (one among others). Swann's test average 28.77 with a econ. rate of 2.98 runs per 6 balls. Ajmal's average 27.96 with a econ. rate of 2.63 runs per 6 balls. Swann has edge over Ajman in strike rate, striking once every 57.8 balls compared to Ajman who has struck once every 63.6 balls. But these are fairly comparable stats, and if anything the er advantage of Ajmal is a big one. So, while it cannot be conclusively said that Ajmal's numbers are better than Swann, it can definitely NOT be said that Swann's are better than Ajmal's.

    I am not planning on reading further articles by this writer, until proper editing is done to ensure CI readers do not get a factually inaccurate article to waste time on.

  • POSTED BY on | January 23, 2012, 4:49 GMT

    AvidCricFan Pakistan have already played in NZ last year plz check your records.

  • POSTED BY 5wombats on | January 22, 2012, 17:06 GMT

    @cric_ind_fan on (January 22 2012, 01:53 AM GMT); "Eng team is the most overrated and hyped team, from my point of view they are one level below current Bangladesh team", and yet @cric_ind_fan this most over-rated team thrashed Australia in Australia. That same Aus team is currently thrashing india. And England, this most "over-rated" team whitewashed india 6 months ago. Your rantings of pure jealousy and inadequacy are some of the best I've ever read on cricinfo. I'm surprised you don't choke on your own bile. What a pity you can't take defeat as graciously as we do. Please publish.

  • POSTED BY Desihungama on | January 23, 2012, 22:36 GMT

    @cric_fan__ - What are you talking about? In last 2 years, Pakistan has beaten England in England (lost series 3-1), Australia in England (Tied 1-1), beat New Zealand in NZ(won 1-0), beat West Indies in WI (Tied 1-1), tied S. A, beat Zimbabwe in Zim, beat Bangladesh in BD. They have won all over except S. A and Australia, last frontiers.

  • POSTED BY mali_jr on | January 23, 2012, 19:55 GMT

    @CricIndia2008, You make me laugh. Pakistan has much better record overeas then India. Pak has better record in india then india have in Pak. Also Pak was the only team to challange WI in their pomp and this includes test series played in WI. If we had neutral umpires back in the 80's, those serier results would have been differnt. I do agree that Pak is bad in Aus and SA.

  • POSTED BY on | January 23, 2012, 14:03 GMT

    @ 5wombats ans Si baker ! Full respect Sir! U two r truly the people with gr8 cricketing knowledge and expertise. I very much respect englishmen and their views on pakistan cricket. England is only second to australia in all time test records and are in their rightful place to be credited as No.1. Both of which are tremendous achievements.

  • POSTED BY on | January 23, 2012, 13:53 GMT

    @ cricindia 208! Our overseas performances recently have been better than urs. Urs have been awful( On the verge of two successive whitewashes). Atleast we drawn with aus in eng and beat eng in a test in eng. Look at ur performances against these two teams.And talking more about away performances Pakistan has been playing away and winning for the last 2 years. From 2000-2012 Pakistan has a better overseas record than india. Just take a look at this link! http://stats.espncricinfo.com/ci/engine/stats/index.html?class=1;home_or_away=2;home_or_away=3;spanmin1=01+Jan+2000;spanval1=span;template=results;type=team First get ur facts together and then comment! Cheers! Cricinfo hasn't been publishing my posts. Cricinfo plz publish.

  • POSTED BY on | January 23, 2012, 13:09 GMT

    PAKISTAN the best team in the cricket history WHO HAVE FACED MANY ups and downs in his cricket career since 1952

  • POSTED BY Team-Ahmed on | January 23, 2012, 7:30 GMT

    Always love reading you!!

  • POSTED BY Team-Ahmed on | January 23, 2012, 7:17 GMT

    Always love reading you!!

  • POSTED BY r1m2 on | January 23, 2012, 5:15 GMT

    Another poorly written (on account of factually incorrect statements) article from this writer. I think Mr. Shafqat's articles should be edited for factual accuracies before published in CI. His statement "... but though Swann's career numbers are better than Ajmal's..." is incorrect (one among others). Swann's test average 28.77 with a econ. rate of 2.98 runs per 6 balls. Ajmal's average 27.96 with a econ. rate of 2.63 runs per 6 balls. Swann has edge over Ajman in strike rate, striking once every 57.8 balls compared to Ajman who has struck once every 63.6 balls. But these are fairly comparable stats, and if anything the er advantage of Ajmal is a big one. So, while it cannot be conclusively said that Ajmal's numbers are better than Swann, it can definitely NOT be said that Swann's are better than Ajmal's.

    I am not planning on reading further articles by this writer, until proper editing is done to ensure CI readers do not get a factually inaccurate article to waste time on.

  • POSTED BY on | January 23, 2012, 4:49 GMT

    AvidCricFan Pakistan have already played in NZ last year plz check your records.

  • POSTED BY 5wombats on | January 22, 2012, 17:06 GMT

    @cric_ind_fan on (January 22 2012, 01:53 AM GMT); "Eng team is the most overrated and hyped team, from my point of view they are one level below current Bangladesh team", and yet @cric_ind_fan this most over-rated team thrashed Australia in Australia. That same Aus team is currently thrashing india. And England, this most "over-rated" team whitewashed india 6 months ago. Your rantings of pure jealousy and inadequacy are some of the best I've ever read on cricinfo. I'm surprised you don't choke on your own bile. What a pity you can't take defeat as graciously as we do. Please publish.

  • POSTED BY aahahaa on | January 22, 2012, 15:56 GMT

    look at the picture of Ajmal in this article. does he look like an off spinner or a Javelin thrower. fixing. chucking. whatever happened to the gentleman's game. you know what, FIFA was forced to introduce a slogan "Fair Play". days are not far away when ICC will have to do something similar. BLOOD SHAME.

  • POSTED BY sharidas on | January 22, 2012, 15:01 GMT

    It certainly has been a victory worth cherishing. I certainly do believe, that Pakistan has the most balanced bowling attack in World Cricket right now. The talent has always been there, with disciplined management, it has started showing better results. Should keep it going without changes, especially in management. I must say well done to Mohsin Khan.

  • POSTED BY on | January 22, 2012, 11:45 GMT

    The biggest improvement I have seen in Pakistan is the Openers. In the past the openers were unconfident and gave their wickets away far too easily. I squarely put this improvement down to Mohammed Hafeez, his confidence only goes to inspire confidence in his opening partner too. A bad start in the past has ended up putting pressure on the middle order early on and they have not been free to play their natural free flowing game that middle orders are there for. Mohammed Hafeez is the single biggest reason Pakistan are scoring far more runs and winning matches and long may it last.

    Pakistan Zindabad

  • POSTED BY on | January 22, 2012, 11:27 GMT

    England we'll see you again in Abu Dhabi. Mark my words, all the talk of Pakistan being untested at Australia et all, Pakistan will thrash England again. May God be with them!

  • POSTED BY cric_fan__ on | January 22, 2012, 8:46 GMT

    pakistan has not played in Aus,Eng or SA under Misbah's captaincy, its too early to rate his leadership.....

  • POSTED BY shakaibkhan on | January 22, 2012, 7:25 GMT

    Nice gesture Rahul, I am looking forward to it

  • POSTED BY cricket_fan_1980 on | January 22, 2012, 4:40 GMT

    I think the English cricket team is very gracious in defeat, and I highly respect that and feel that all other teams need to learn from them

  • POSTED BY cric_ind_fan on | January 22, 2012, 1:53 GMT

    Congrats team pakistan. Good to see your team back to form and performance. Admire the kind of potential of young bowlers. @5wombats - Eng team should learn how to play cricket and win outside their backyard(Green Top pitches) from Australia. Don't overwhelmed by current rating. Eng team is the most overrated and hyped team, from my point of view they are one level below current Bangladesh team.

  • POSTED BY on | January 22, 2012, 1:24 GMT

    @Wahaj Hashmi, Deconstruct & iBilal: no need to thank 5Wombats & myself for our sportsmanship. I think you'll find that the vast majority of England fans on the Cricinfo boards are fair-minded, knowledgeable & respectful of other teams' performances; & I'm sure I can speak for most of them when I say that we have particular respect for the current Pakistani team, who have not only recovered in impressive fashion from the tribulations of 2010/11, but who - for unfortunate socio-political reasons that have nothing to do with cricket & are completely beyond their control - have a harder job than any other team in world cricket when it comes to preparing & planning for series against their opponents. Your team has earned our respect not just on the field of play, but also in the dignified manner in which they've conducted themselves off the field; & that goes for the majority of Pakistani fans on these boards, too. May the best team win.

  • POSTED BY Avidcricketlover on | January 22, 2012, 0:06 GMT

    The headline read " under Misbah ". Atlast an article to really credit the man behind this team. Pakistan always has potential but the one to lead had been the problem. Inzy did a fair job but no one after him was able to. Younis had it in him but he floundered. Afridi was a bad choice and he vinidicated it by mid series retirement. Then controversies because of all the wrong choices. Then came back this man, Misbah who I thought is one of the run of the mill cricketer who has aged too that he has no role whatsoever. But he was made captain and he led by example. A true example for the team to emulate.

    Salute Misbah !!! He has built a team which is united !

  • POSTED BY 5wombats on | January 22, 2012, 0:03 GMT

    @Wahaj Hashmi on (January 21 2012, 21:22 PM GMT) - There is never going to be a problem between Pakistan and England. We always treat Pakistan as great friends - hence the invitation to Pakistan to play Australia in 2010. Remember, England has been whacked (Waqared..!) by Pakistan on many occasion here and in Pakistan. So, we learned respect. Meanwhile india fans have been caning us at every opportunity (even though they have been thrashed out of sight recently by Eng and Aus), displaying gloating and no respect. It shows the difference because when india were getting whacked by England last Summer we didn't see any gloating or nonsense of any kind from Pakistan followers. We agree with @Si Baker - losing sucks, but if England have to lose to anyone we don't mind it being Pakistan.

  • POSTED BY dmqi on | January 21, 2012, 23:25 GMT

    I am a strong supporter of Misbah but let us be fair to all. Misbah is not the only factor for the success, it is the management too which has put the right team together and giving the captain the total support. Pakistan always had good players, but poor management allowed in fight and corruption. I hope most of you will agree with me on this point. I do not want to praise someone too much and then dispose him for any failure, a common human nature. Pak has to do well with Aus and SA, the they can claim to be a top team, 2 more to go with England, so wait a little.

  • POSTED BY serious-am-i on | January 21, 2012, 23:18 GMT

    @5wombats: A defeat can be accepted with good grace agreed. I would like to correct some of the pakistan fans quoting as UAE is away from home which I won't agree. When you are playing at the same location for a longer period time its home next to home. Yes it would take time to adjust but the current group of Pak players are playing over in UAE for over 1 yr now. I would say UAE is an home advantage for Pak, I am taking away their credits its just a statement I would like ot make. I am worried about the current ICC rankings. All the teams which are on top recently let it be India or England or who ever is going to take over, they are doing it based on their home performances which is highly unfair. So, there will not be any permanent no.1, almost each country is strong at their backyard. Hope we can get a real no.1 side which I strongly believe England is not & to even think about India in this frame would be hilarious. SA/Pak/Aus have it to become no.1, lets see who does it.

  • POSTED BY serious-am-i on | January 21, 2012, 23:11 GMT

    I may be an Indian but I love watching the pakistan bowlers. Let it be spin or pace Pak has been producing talent every now & then. Here we have another set of fine men giving a good shot at the pot. As far I am concerned, Ajmal is a far better bowler than Swann. We have seen Swann not at all troubling the already troubled Indian batsmen in Eng or in the ODI series. All the best Pakistan go for the kill in the remaining 2 matches.

  • POSTED BY Naikan on | January 21, 2012, 22:18 GMT

    I am not surprised with the result. A few weeks ago in articles on England's no. 1 test rank, I had predicted that England would not find their matches against Pakistan easy. While Pakistan's batting may not seem formidable, they have always had very good bowlers to draw from - especially for test cricket. They are wicket taking bowlers and do not aim just to contain. Please also note that they won a test in England in 2010 and could have done better in the series there if not for the spot fixing scandal. Secondly one should also see that as a Test captain, Misbah has probably the best appreciation of tactics needed in a test. Misbah made sure that they kept out the oppostion bowling at bay to get the lead he wanted. By the way, if he manages to win the next two tests, he will equal Jardine for the top test winning captain of all time (in ratio for captains with 15 or more tests). Pakistan do have a chance of becoming no. 1 or 2 in tests under Misbah's leadership.

  • POSTED BY on | January 21, 2012, 22:02 GMT

    Great victory but certainly not the best.We have many such good victories like this before. Victory against India in Madras in 1999 was my favorite where we won by just 16 runs and yeah there great Saqlain Mushtaq was the hero.

  • POSTED BY Naikan on | January 21, 2012, 21:48 GMT

    I can see that some people are doubting Pakistan's results or ability to win more. Please note that while their batting may not be mighty they have always had very good bowlers to draw from - especially for test cricket. I call them wicket taking bowlers and their aim is to snatch the batsmen's wicket and not just contain. Secondly one should also see that as a Test captain, Misbah has probably the best appreciation of what is needed in a test. How many times in the past have teams thrown away the advantage after bowling the opposition for a small score. Misbah made sure that they kept out the oppostion bowling at bay to get the lead he wanted. Please also note that he won a test in England recently and would have probably won the series there if not for the spot fixing scandal. If he manages to win the next two tests, he will equal Jardine for the top test winning captain of all time (in ratio for captains with 15 or more tests).

  • POSTED BY swingstowin on | January 21, 2012, 21:27 GMT

    the win was a good win for Pakistan cricket and fans,but it was just one test match... Make no mistake,England are very very good side and they will come back strong, next two matches ought to be very interesting,and i am sure,much more competitive. I dont know why Miandad said what he said just after a test match win, and frankly i disagree with him... England are the the most complete test side in the world right now and deserve to be number 1... Still i hope that Pakistan down them 3-0...whatever happens; one thing is for sure,we have have two very interesting test matches coming up!!

  • POSTED BY on | January 21, 2012, 21:22 GMT

    @5wombats and Si Baker - You gentlemen, are my heroes. All hail sportsmanship. Nice article, by the way.

  • POSTED BY smileintears on | January 21, 2012, 21:10 GMT

    "Does the teesra really exist? No, it doesn't. But - especially if you're an England batsman - don't take my word for it." ..... haha good haunting line for Englishmen...... and I firmly believe that England are going to do this yet again 'Afterwards England complained of alien and unhelpful conditions that did not suit their style of play.'

  • POSTED BY on | January 21, 2012, 20:53 GMT

    Salutes Misbah. Captain matters the most and this guy has made the real difference.

  • POSTED BY ZsZs on | January 21, 2012, 20:41 GMT

    If you look at the top 5 Captain's W/L ratio, Misbah has a 7 compared to the 2nd highest Miandad at 2.3! That is phenomenal, and I hope Misbah all the luck, and may Pakistan flourish under his leadership.

  • POSTED BY cricket_fan_1980 on | January 21, 2012, 20:35 GMT

    Saad you're a great columnist. Extremely fair and unbiased writing, which highlights both the positives and negatives from both sides, and allows true fans of the game to appreciate the subtle nuances that make Test cricket so incredibly exciting. I completely agree with M. Shakeel in the post below, Eng will (or at least should) come back hard, and Pakistan should be focussing entirely on winning the next test, and in absolutely dire circumstances, fighting for the draw. If Pakistan can achieve a series win, then immense praise is indeed due. Also, I'm not a fan of this bashing-the-flat-pitch argument that several pundits have posed. A flat track inherently means it is easier for batsmen to read the pitch, and the pitch offers little to seamers, and spinners initially before it has been roughened up. So, if you have a good bowling side, like Eng and Pak, then you should need to work harder on the field but get some respite while batting. Eng failed twice to do that

  • POSTED BY on | January 21, 2012, 20:25 GMT

    Taufeeq Umar and Mohammad Hafeez have looked altogether different players under Misbah. One wonders if the under performing Mohammad Sami is drafted into the team, he too would flourish under Misbah's captaincy.

  • POSTED BY on | January 21, 2012, 19:33 GMT

    All this debate about being or not being under-achievers is quite baseless and futile at times. Please someone tell me who is NOT an under-achiever? England does not perform away from the damp cool conditions at home, and the same can be said for most other test nations, and as for India..errr lets not even go there....all know is that Pakistan has not played at home (UAE,srilanka is not home ) for a few years and has had its fair (at times more than) share of troubles (self inflicted mostly), yet, they are resilient, and by far one of the most exciting teams to watch play cricket in all forms of the game.

  • POSTED BY on | January 21, 2012, 19:20 GMT

    Great article...weldone pak, keep it up...but remember eng will come back but dosent matter...pak have advantage nd keep it simple no need to panic and over confidance...play your natural game like u play 1st test....

    All the Very Best!!!!

  • POSTED BY on | January 21, 2012, 18:33 GMT

    no way to compare saqlain and ajmal

  • POSTED BY CricIndia208 on | January 21, 2012, 18:20 GMT

    Nothing to crow about. pakistan have an awful record overseas, in England, Australia, West Indies (LOL), India, SA. That is not going to change.

  • POSTED BY sirvivfan on | January 21, 2012, 17:56 GMT

    I agree England is a good side... Good batting side who bat deep and deserve the no status for beating Australia away and drawing with South Africa. so I say to Pakistan supporters do not get carried away the battle has been won not the war, that we will know soon. This win has made Pakistanis like me happy but we know the pressure will be on Pakistan to keep playing as they have done so. England will come hard and if Pakistan bat first they must not produce a low score, so on this basis I would be inclined to bowl first! Also England will play Panesar, he has been bowling well and in my opinion he is bowling better than Swan during last one year... But Swan is better all round cricketer. Good luck Pakistan , as I catch plane to Abu Dhabi.

  • POSTED BY AvidCricFan on | January 21, 2012, 17:27 GMT

    While this Pakistani team has come a long way, it has not been tried in challenging conditions in England, Australia or NZ. The current series is like playing in subcontinent. The wicket also had subcontinent character. I would not declare victory so quick. Even India is a bull in subcontinent.

  • POSTED BY KarachiKid on | January 21, 2012, 17:05 GMT

    I think Pakistan will need to play out of their skin if they want to win this series as England will come back hard and it would be really really tough.

  • POSTED BY Desihungama on | January 21, 2012, 16:54 GMT

    @boris6491- Just how is hot, sunny, humid, sweaty is comfortable for anyone on planet earth? You ought to be saying that Pakistan are a tough bunch who are better than other teams at adjusting to conditions. In last two years, we have won in England, NZ, UAE, West Indies, India (WC), Zimbabwe, Bangladesh and now UAE again. I see a pattern here. What does it tell you?

  • POSTED BY Zahidsaltin on | January 21, 2012, 16:46 GMT

    Pakistan would be stronger in the second test if they play Wahab Riaz and Umar Akmal instead of Aizaz Cheema and Asad Shafiq. Nobody talks about Adnan Akmal but I was positively surprised by his improved batting skills. I won't predict it to be a 3-0 whitewash before I have witnessed 2-0 first but it very much feels going that way. Come on Abdul Rahman it's your turn now.

  • POSTED BY rahulcricket007 on | January 21, 2012, 16:37 GMT

    I M AN INDIAN FAN & I WILL BE HAPPY IF PAKISTAN CONTINUE THEIR SUPERB PERFORMNCES IN CRICKET & WIN THE 2015 WC ,LIKE THEY DID IN 1992 . AT LEAST THE WC WILL BE RETAINED IN SUBCONTITNENT .

  • POSTED BY BuddyLee on | January 21, 2012, 16:36 GMT

    I like the sentiment expressed in the article, but ixnay on the long term trend. This not madness, This is Pakistan! We don't do long term and there is always a self destruct button, conveniently located in every room on the Hindenburg. The question is how soon the players are going to be at each others throats? Abu Dhabi or Dubai? Can they possibly breeze through the whole tour? My guess the cracks will be noticeable by the end of the T20s. Now that Cheema is injured, does Wahab Riaz some in? No, I am not suggesting anything. Nothing that you need take note of unless you find it odd that Imran Farhat is in the Test squad, or that Asim Kamal's career was snuffed out like a spent smoke. Call it the Boom Boom factor, or call it Mohsin's curse, or the Zaks effect. We'll call it something but it only be an excuse for the inevitable, and it will be what it was, what it is, what it always shall be.

  • POSTED BY deconstruct on | January 21, 2012, 16:18 GMT

    Kudos to Shafqat as well as English fans like Si Baker & Swombats who make us realize that it is indeed a gentleman's game. Thank you: you two were gracious in defeat, and I would once again want to remind my own countrymen to respond likewise. And Tahir: Swann-Ajmal comparison is not laughable; Swann too is a fine bowler by all standards, but so far, this looks like Ajmal's series. Also, don't forget, Pakistani's play spin a lot better than Englishmen, so he's bowling to tougher opponents. Anyway, good luck to England and all the best to Pakistan!

  • POSTED BY on | January 21, 2012, 16:16 GMT

    GEO TO AISEY WELLDONE TEAM PAKISTAN KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK GO ON AND WIN THE SERIES .

  • POSTED BY sirvivfan on | January 21, 2012, 16:05 GMT

    Well written and balanced article. Unlike Mr Dobell's. We can now claim we have better cricketers and journalists! No seriously it is important to be objective when one writes. I agree the difference has been the batting in particular the opening partnerships we have witnessed. So important for the batsmen to realise that if they can score 350 runs Pakistan will be in the game because of the bowling! Additionally they need to bat 120+ overs a innings, this makes the opposition particularly English bowlers tire and less potent even though the weather is not hot. England will come back hard.... Even they may have a good partnership, if the batsmen can weather the storm then the series can be ours. Need to make change to batting, bring in Akmal and possibly Juniad in side. England bats have mot faced Junaid before! Mean while let's enjoy the victory! Riaz

  • POSTED BY spence1324 on | January 21, 2012, 15:53 GMT

    @si baker to be honest mate I hope england beat pakistan and send them to the gutter! that would silence miandad.

  • POSTED BY iBilal on | January 21, 2012, 15:44 GMT

    @Si Baker... Initially, I approached this series as a chance of redemption for Pak cricket but within the 3 days of cricket, I have grown deep respect for English cricketers for the character they have shown. It doesnt mean I didnt had respect before that, but its just that we never had a clean series before. Now, as much as I want Pak to win, I would be equally delighted if the English win in a close contest. cheers mate

  • POSTED BY on | January 21, 2012, 15:29 GMT

    I just wanna say two things. (1) We should wait for the series to finish before start declaring England as undeserved number one. (2) Thanks for Indian fans to appreciated the win of Pakistan (even though it's the same fans who were suggesting 2 months ago that Pakinstan are no good as they can only beat Bangladesh). England's failure in one overseas test cannot justify India's seven consecutive losses overseas. Also, contrary to what Javed Miandad said, England didn't just gain number one position through home advantage. They won three tests in Australia where conditions are completely different to England. I do wish Pakistan to win this series, but the fact that India are flat track bullies doens't change.

  • POSTED BY boris6491 on | January 21, 2012, 15:23 GMT

    They had a great 2011 and have started this series terrifically. Finally, Pakistan are looking the part as a test nation. Although, it's far too early to say that they are no longer underachievers and a potent test nation. They need to compete first in conditions such as England, Australia and South Africa. Never judge a team by how well they play in comfortable conditions, as these are for Pakistan. The same goes to England who have much to prove in order to show that they can bury their subcontinent demons and truly establish themselves as the undisputed number 1.

  • POSTED BY on | January 21, 2012, 15:09 GMT

    Lets not get carried away. England going to come hard and will test Pakistanis resolve in the next 2 matches. Pakistan has to win at-least 1 more test in this series to be considered as genuine re-emergence of once a great cricketing nation.

  • POSTED BY on | January 21, 2012, 14:42 GMT

    its a great article obviously as a pakistani supporter i have always thought we are better than most people have thought and if there was a picture in the oxford dictionary next to the word underachievers it would probably be the pakistan team...what if they had a set up like england??? im english and have enjoyed the banter at work regarding this series and what makes it great for me is no one was really willing to predict the result... all though the last game was a convincing win at anypoint had england clicked it would have been game on... i think this is the main difference in this series in comparison to the other 2 going on which are totally one sided....i expect nothing less than a great fight back from england

  • POSTED BY on | January 21, 2012, 14:24 GMT

    EngLanded.....!!

  • POSTED BY iBilal on | January 21, 2012, 14:17 GMT

    @wombats, much respects to you sir. I have always believed in grace in defeat and humble in victory. The revival of Pak team in tough times is unmatched and unparalleled. They have done it many times, whether its 92 or 09wc. When the chips are down and times are low, Pak has turned around things in a fashion, no one can. Its kinda cindrella story for them every time.

  • POSTED BY on | January 21, 2012, 14:00 GMT

    Good comments from all but one thing is missing that nowadays all the teams at home done very well but outside home they are poor just like India as live example. I think that Pakistan batting is still very miserable against spin bowling of Swan particularly Assad Shafiq, Toufiq and Misbah himself. Pakistan must be aware of Swan threat in the next game. Pakistan should replace Assad Shafiq with Umar Akmal.

  • POSTED BY heathrf1974 on | January 21, 2012, 13:57 GMT

    Test cricket is such a mental game and under the leadership of Misbah, Pakistan are now reaching their potential. I was so impressed with the determined and stable batting by the Pakistan players, whereas in previous years they would throw away their wickets with ill-disciplined shots.

  • POSTED BY on | January 21, 2012, 11:43 GMT

    "In other words, Pakistan's bowling was strong before, and continues to be strong under Misbah, but now the batsmen are giving their bowlers enough runs to play with." Best answer to the critics of Misbah led Pakistan's so called conservative approach approach. Resistive it is.

  • POSTED BY on | January 21, 2012, 10:40 GMT

    Yet another incisive & fair-minded article by Mr Shafqat. One of the many admirable qualities demonstrated by this current Pakistani side is that it clearly values the virtues of age & experience, as exemplified by the belated selection of players such as Misbah, Ajmal & Rehman, all of whom have performed way beyond the expectations of even the most optimistic Pakistani supporters. As for the Ajmal vs. Swann debate: as an Englishman, I'd love to pretend that Swann is the more potent force, but that would be a lie: Ajmal, in his own understated way, is almost as thrilling to watch as Imran, Akram, Waqar, Afridi, Qadir, Saqlain & Shoaib were in their collective pomp. Obviously, I'm rooting for England to square - or, by some miracle, even win - the series, but if we *have* to lose our first series for three years, Pakistan would be my vanquisher of choice.

  • POSTED BY ssshafqat on | January 21, 2012, 10:21 GMT

    you are truly a font of cricket statistics! :)

  • POSTED BY The_big_j on | January 21, 2012, 9:47 GMT

    Its too soon to say anything really, the game of cricket is really funny and test cricket now is very unstable. Any of the top 5 teams can beat each other (maybe apart from india) in any conditions and all it takes is 1 loss to lose everything that was achieved (As you can see from England who are being criticized left and right by players and media). Even though its high times for Misbah's men, you must not forget that just like England they too are highly untested and until they travel to SA, AUS, ENG, IND and play like the way they're playing UAE I won't consider them to be as good as imran's or wasim's side.

  • POSTED BY tahir989 on | January 21, 2012, 9:41 GMT

    Can't wait for the 2nd test to start off and see what Eng comes out firing this time. In the 1st test, they were shooting blank and their batsmen played Houdini. As for Ajmal Vs Swann........ The comparison alone makes me laugh... Simply past glorification's won't matter as we are in the present and presently Ajmal outplays Swann out completely... Don't take my words for it.. Chk the data for the past 12 months and judge it urself...

  • POSTED BY on | January 21, 2012, 9:04 GMT

    Whilst i am pleased with the victory, I would advise all the Pakistani fans to keep their feet on the ground. The fat lady has not sung yet!! Pakistan Zindabad!

  • POSTED BY 5wombats on | January 21, 2012, 8:45 GMT

    There is vast potential in Pakistan to produce world-beating cricketers - something they have been doing for many years - frequently winning Test Matches and series abroad. Overall, Pakistan have a significant advantage over india in that Pakistan always produce skillful fast bowlers. This is why Pakistan can perform well all around the world and india cannot. Wombats applaud Pakistan and their fans who are gracious in victory. Good that so many india fans are here - they are seeing Pakistan do something that india could not do. And india fans can learn graciousness from Pakistan fans. india fans can also learn from England fans that it is possible to accept defeat with good grace and without making any excuses. Please publish.

  • POSTED BY vineetkarthi on | January 21, 2012, 8:01 GMT

    Pakistan has been always a better than average team with good bowlers (easily among the best in the sub-continent) and a brilliant, if, inconsistent batting. The reasons for their performing below potential may lie elsewhere... What makes their revival so interesting is the fact that their cricket can be as entertaining as that of the West Indians of yore and as fiery as anyone in world cricket. And the way they have knocked the stuffing out of the English team also highlights how poor most teams are (in fact, all teams in the world today, without exception) at playing away from home. Wishing Pakistan the best in the remaining tests against England.

  • POSTED BY on | January 21, 2012, 7:25 GMT

    I think everyone is getting carried away. There are two more test matches to go and it's the series that counts. Not the one test. England is a good side and you can expect them to bounce back strongly so don't count your chickens!

  • POSTED BY on | January 21, 2012, 6:58 GMT

    I like the way you compared Ajmal with Saqlain and Swanny. Wonder, for how long Ajmal can continue to spin his magic on the field with ever growing birthdays :( Encouraging enough, Saqlain said the other day in an interview that a spinner actually gets mature in his age and knows how to handle different situations rather than just throwing a ball like they do in baseball in his mid or late 20's :)

  • POSTED BY on | January 21, 2012, 6:00 GMT

    No Doubt this is one of the biggest victories for Pakistan. We have beaten the world Champs in just three days. In the conditions which is suitable for batsmen and they have 4 players who are top 10 test batsman list of the ICC. To me this is something amazing achievement. I want a fight back from England don't want to see England loosing 3-0.

  • POSTED BY BasharatRehman on | January 21, 2012, 5:17 GMT

    Pakistan's inconsistency in the past has been the problem. If Misbah's men can hold on to this one test advantage and win the series 1-0, it will be a great achievement. We will not mind Misbah and Azhar Ali's pedestrian knocks if they can help achieve series win. If they win the series with bigger margin, then surely it will be the start of something big.

  • POSTED BY on | January 21, 2012, 5:00 GMT

    Yes, it looks like the beginning of a new era of Pakistan especially and for the world cricket, generally, but its too early to say that Misbah is heading towards the best Pakistani Captain. All the best to Misbah, and thanks a lot for being the real face of Pakistan

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  • POSTED BY on | January 21, 2012, 5:00 GMT

    Yes, it looks like the beginning of a new era of Pakistan especially and for the world cricket, generally, but its too early to say that Misbah is heading towards the best Pakistani Captain. All the best to Misbah, and thanks a lot for being the real face of Pakistan

  • POSTED BY BasharatRehman on | January 21, 2012, 5:17 GMT

    Pakistan's inconsistency in the past has been the problem. If Misbah's men can hold on to this one test advantage and win the series 1-0, it will be a great achievement. We will not mind Misbah and Azhar Ali's pedestrian knocks if they can help achieve series win. If they win the series with bigger margin, then surely it will be the start of something big.

  • POSTED BY on | January 21, 2012, 6:00 GMT

    No Doubt this is one of the biggest victories for Pakistan. We have beaten the world Champs in just three days. In the conditions which is suitable for batsmen and they have 4 players who are top 10 test batsman list of the ICC. To me this is something amazing achievement. I want a fight back from England don't want to see England loosing 3-0.

  • POSTED BY on | January 21, 2012, 6:58 GMT

    I like the way you compared Ajmal with Saqlain and Swanny. Wonder, for how long Ajmal can continue to spin his magic on the field with ever growing birthdays :( Encouraging enough, Saqlain said the other day in an interview that a spinner actually gets mature in his age and knows how to handle different situations rather than just throwing a ball like they do in baseball in his mid or late 20's :)

  • POSTED BY on | January 21, 2012, 7:25 GMT

    I think everyone is getting carried away. There are two more test matches to go and it's the series that counts. Not the one test. England is a good side and you can expect them to bounce back strongly so don't count your chickens!

  • POSTED BY vineetkarthi on | January 21, 2012, 8:01 GMT

    Pakistan has been always a better than average team with good bowlers (easily among the best in the sub-continent) and a brilliant, if, inconsistent batting. The reasons for their performing below potential may lie elsewhere... What makes their revival so interesting is the fact that their cricket can be as entertaining as that of the West Indians of yore and as fiery as anyone in world cricket. And the way they have knocked the stuffing out of the English team also highlights how poor most teams are (in fact, all teams in the world today, without exception) at playing away from home. Wishing Pakistan the best in the remaining tests against England.

  • POSTED BY 5wombats on | January 21, 2012, 8:45 GMT

    There is vast potential in Pakistan to produce world-beating cricketers - something they have been doing for many years - frequently winning Test Matches and series abroad. Overall, Pakistan have a significant advantage over india in that Pakistan always produce skillful fast bowlers. This is why Pakistan can perform well all around the world and india cannot. Wombats applaud Pakistan and their fans who are gracious in victory. Good that so many india fans are here - they are seeing Pakistan do something that india could not do. And india fans can learn graciousness from Pakistan fans. india fans can also learn from England fans that it is possible to accept defeat with good grace and without making any excuses. Please publish.

  • POSTED BY on | January 21, 2012, 9:04 GMT

    Whilst i am pleased with the victory, I would advise all the Pakistani fans to keep their feet on the ground. The fat lady has not sung yet!! Pakistan Zindabad!

  • POSTED BY tahir989 on | January 21, 2012, 9:41 GMT

    Can't wait for the 2nd test to start off and see what Eng comes out firing this time. In the 1st test, they were shooting blank and their batsmen played Houdini. As for Ajmal Vs Swann........ The comparison alone makes me laugh... Simply past glorification's won't matter as we are in the present and presently Ajmal outplays Swann out completely... Don't take my words for it.. Chk the data for the past 12 months and judge it urself...

  • POSTED BY The_big_j on | January 21, 2012, 9:47 GMT

    Its too soon to say anything really, the game of cricket is really funny and test cricket now is very unstable. Any of the top 5 teams can beat each other (maybe apart from india) in any conditions and all it takes is 1 loss to lose everything that was achieved (As you can see from England who are being criticized left and right by players and media). Even though its high times for Misbah's men, you must not forget that just like England they too are highly untested and until they travel to SA, AUS, ENG, IND and play like the way they're playing UAE I won't consider them to be as good as imran's or wasim's side.