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ESPNcricinfo looks back at the players who helped Pakistan to a famous whitewash over England with the spin bowlers and a fine captain to the fore
February 7, 2012
Mohammad Hafeez 7/10
Technically correct, patient and disciplined, Hafeez dealt calmly with a testing England seam attack - they dismissed him only once in the series - but was troubled more by Monty Panesar's left-arm spin. He made a polished 88 in the first Test to give his side a strong platform and weighed in with useful contributions in a low-scoring game at Abu Dhabi. He also claimed five wickets - all of them left-handers - at an average of just 16 with his miserly offspin. England could barely hit him off the square and he conceded fewer than two runs an over.
Taufeeq Umar 3
A series of diminishing returns. Looked disciplined and solid in making 58 in his first innings of the series, but was subsequently unsettled by James Anderson's inswinger and drawn into a series of unwise pokes outside the off stump. He only made only 29 runs in his next five innings.
Azhar Ali 8.5
A breakthrough series for a 26-year-old who could go on to be Pakistan's Test captain. Certainly Azhar demonstrated a temperament that might have been tailor-made for Test cricket. He also showed a tight technique and a welcome aptitude to shine under pressure. The highlight was his marathon effort in Dubai, but he also produced a match-turning innings of 68 in Abu Dhabi. No-one on either side batted for longer or came within ten of his series average of 50.2.
Younis Khan 7.5
He may only have contributed one innings of substance to the series, but what an innings it was. Dripping with quality and class, Younis' century in Dubai changed the course of a game that Pakistan - bowled out for 99 in their first innings - might easily have lost. He looked in decent touch for the rest of the series, but never went on to register a significant score.
How can we evaluate Misbah's influence on the team? It clearly extends far beyond making runs; important as they often were. Misbah sets the tone for Pakistan, on and off the pitch, coaxing the best from his team and ensuring calm professionalism pervades whether winning or losing. It would be easy to characterise him purely as a dour, obdurate batsman - and there were certainly periods during his vital half-century in the first Test where those qualities stuck out - but he also showed his selfless, intelligent side with his calculated attacking at Abu Dhabi that brought him four sixes. He may have to watch one weakness with the bat, however, as England soon worked out that, for all his discipline outside off stump, he is a likely lbw victim. He fell that way in all five innings. Despite all the team's success, some still dislike Misbah. They accuse him of being boring. Maybe, though, after everything that has happened in Pakistan cricket over the last few years, a little bit of boredom is not such a bad thing?
Asad Shafiq 6.5
Played a large part in the victory in Abu Dhabi - in a low-scoring game his contribution of 101 runs in total was highly significant - and top-scored with 45 in the first innings rout in Dubai. He showed with his dismissal in the first innings in Abu Dhabi - heaving across the line due to a lapse in concentration - that he is not the finished article, but he displayed enough talent to suggest he should have a long future at this level.
Adnan Akmal 6.5
An accomplished keeper who, but for one out of character mistake on the last day of the series, kept neatly to spin and seam alike. He still has some work to do on his batting - he contributed only one meaningful innings as a batsman and may be a place or two high at No. 7 - but this is a man who could represent Pakistan for much of the next decade.
Abdur Rehman 8.5
A vastly underrated cricketer. Rehman may not have much mystery, but he has excellent control and a wonderful ability to change his pace quite extravagantly without any obvious change in his action. He finished the series with 19 wickets at 16.73, including his first two five-wicket hauls in Tests. Ajmal ended with more wickets, but how many came partially as a result of the pressure built by Rehman who simply hardly bowled a poor ball? It is hard to think of a better spin partnership in contemporary world cricket. His problems with the bat - and he struggled horribly against Graeme Swann - will be over-looked if he continues to bowl like this.
Saeed Ajmal 9
Masterful. With 24 wickets at 14.7 apiece, Ajmal tortured the England batsmen. As if his doosra was not enough - and it was more than enough for Ian Bell, who fell to it four times - he also displayed superb control and a host of other, subtle variations. Sometimes it was the ball that spun that caused England problems; sometimes it was the ball that went straight on. His 7 for 55 in the first Test set the tone for the series and unsettled several England batsmen. He may even have ruined a couple of illustrious careers.
Umar Gul 8
An unsung hero in a side built around spin, Gul still enjoyed an excellent series. Wholehearted, strong and fit, Gul gave his side an edge with his committed seam bowling and at times troubled the England batsmen as much with his pace as his consistent line and length. Fully deserved his last day burst of four wickets.
Aizaz Cheema 4
In years to come, the identity of the second seamer in the famous victory in the third Test might make a searching quiz question. With just one wicket in his two Tests, it could seem that Cheema was almost an irrelevance. He actually bowled pretty well without much fortune and supported Gul and the spinners better than the figures suggests. He beat the England openers frequently.
Junaid Khan 2
On the face of things, Junaid had a shocker: he made a pair in his only Test and dropped an easy catch. He actually bowled very well in his limited opportunities - he beat Trott on several occasions -and, on more helpful pitches, will surely enjoy better games. His fielding does have to improve, though.
George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfoFeeds: George Dobell
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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