|South London sunshine...|
Hales chipped one to mid wicket early on. Doubts about whether it carried were aired but generally if you are given, then you have to get your arse back to the hutch. Hales did and remonstrated his point with match referee Richie Richardson. He was fined 15% of his match fee for his troubles. An average of 18 in the series may well have been the reason behind Alex' angst. His opening partner Cook got Elephant and Castled by Wahab Riaz.
England in general never did enough. 328 is below par in the first innings especially on a quick scoring ground like this. They were at least 150 short despite a beautiful hundred from the Beard that is Revered.
When Pakistan batted Younus didn't impersonate Greg Rutherford too much this time as he scored a brilliant double hundred. Asad Shafiq who is Pakistan's best batsman in my humble opinion got a ton but Younus was brilliant as he shepherded a Brontosaurus like tail. Finn and Woakes got three wickets each, although two wides from Finn left Marais Erasmus looking like the statue of Christ the Ascension in Rio. Pakistan's 542 was match winning.
When England batted again there was some soft dismissals. Bairstow ground out 81 and showed some Yorkshire grit but England's deficiencies were shown up yet again. Yasir Shah bowled superbly to pick up a fivefer. Pakistan knocked off the remaining runs to level the series 2-2 finishing off in style with a six. It's a shame there is no deciding fifth Test. I'd rather that than the cash cow of the One Day series.
It has been an excellent series between two very closely matched sides. Despite a couple of emphatic wins by each team, there hasn't been a lot between them. Pakistan have played some excellent cricket at times, well led by Misbah and made many friends. The series has been played in a decent spirit.
As for England there is lots of talk about three of our batsmen. The truth is England have four world class players - Cook, Broad, Anderson and Root - and they hide the problems of other players. Hales, Ballance and Vince must be sweating on their place for India. Hales has problems. After Sri Lanka, I thought he was going to make it but the better bowlers of Pakistan have found out that he moves his feet akin to Douglas Bader. One day dashing in Test cricket doesn't work. Let's find an opener and give him a run. Sam Robson won't give it away but there is a school of thought of blooding a youngster and sticking with him. If so, Bell-Drummond at Kent or Gubbins at Middlesex must be worth a shout.
Vince is a pretty player. His cover drive is beautiful but he gives it away too often. He has the ability but whether he has the mental attitude for Test cricket remains a doubt. Ballance is the opposite. He won't give it away but has struggled against spin. He might not get his passage to India.
England will pick three spinners for India. Ali and Rashid will go. It will be interesting to see who the third one is. Ansari has been too injury prone for me, so I would go with Jack Leach of Somerset. I think England will go for Ansari though as they have this obsession with people who can bat as well. Rayner will get the nod but he is an off spinner like Moeen. Leach offers something different and rags it on a bunsen. Just pick the best spinner, please.
All in all it has been a decent series. I have thoroughly enjoyed it. Well played Pakistan.