Pakistan seamer Sohail Khan, who returned to Test cricket recently, has said that doing his homework on England batsmen had helped him reap rewards on the tour. Sohail first played in the third Test at Edgbaston, where he troubled England's top order and took 5 for 96. He followed that with another five-for in the next Test at The Oval, where he was instrumental in limiting the top and middle order.
"I had done my homework about their [England batsmen] strengths and weaknesses," Sohail told Dawn. "All I did was bowl in the right areas. Of course, there were runs taken off me because they are fine players, but bowling a tight length reaped me a lot of success.
"My aim was to bowl consistently at my line and length. I had told myself to not deviate from it and thankfully it paid off. The English batsmen don't gift away their wickets. You have to think out of the box to get their scalp. Arriving in England a month ahead also helped me a lot to get acclimatised and understand the Duke ball better."
Before the tour of England, Sohail had last played a Test in 2011, in Zimbabwe, taking only one wicket in a match Pakistan won by seven wickets. After almost a five-year hiatus, Sohail was drafted into the Test XI at Edgbaston in place of Wahab Riaz, with the series level 1-1. He broke the opening partnership by having Alex Hales caught behind and also got the big wicket of Joe Root, for 3, by inducing an outside edge. He took the last wicket of the innings - that of James Anderson - as England were all out for 297.
During the long day in which he bowled 23 overs, Sohail hit fuller lengths for lateral movement and said he was not tired though there had been questions over his fitness.
"I wasn't tired at all," he said. "I was bowling with the new ball. In English conditions you need to give more air to the ball so it can swing. It is all about the understanding of the game. Bowling is not only about hammering short-pitched balls at the batsmen or generating pace. It is about varying your pace according to the situation."
To further prove his fitness levels, Sohail celebrated his five-for on return with a set of push-ups, a trend his captain Misbah-ul-Haq started after scoring a century at Lord's.
"The push-ups I did (with a clap in between) were hard and not everyone can do them. I wanted to prove my fitness to the world that even after bowling long spells, I could still go on."
After Pakistan lost at Edgbaston by 141 runs, Sohail took 5 for 68 in the last Test at The Oval to finish the series with 13 wickets at an average of 25 and strike rate of 40.4. His performance helped Pakistan win the fourth Test by ten wickets and level the series 2-2.
Sohail had taken five wickets on his ODI return too - against India in the World Cup last year - dismissing Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina, MS Dhoni and Ajinkya Rahane.
Sohail, however, did not want to settle for just bowling rewards. He said he wanted to become an allrounder. "I am working on my batting these days. I aim to become a successful allrounder since modern-day cricket demands from a player to be on top in all facets of the game. I have also been scoring runs in the domestic circuit."