Pakistan vs England, 1st Test, 2022: Positive England proved the world wrong with their own winning mindset

Lights were dropping with the sun getting behind the shades as England who from the very first ball of the historic Test series have come to the field with a mindset of squeezing up a result were giving their everything and the moment the umpire raised his finger to the huge appeal of Jack Leach to point last man Naseem Shah dismissed, the whole world saw something perhaps they didn’t think at the start of the game.

Pic Courtesy: ©Ben Stokes/Twitter

It was around nine months ago when Australia and Pakistan in another historic Test series was part of the most boring game where bowlers were taken to the cleaners but almost on the same sort of benign 22-yards, England under their new theory of their captain Ben Stokes and Brendon McCullum have lighted up this Test series. 

England and the theory of going for a result- irrespective of the end:

England were touring Pakistan after 17 years. The last time England toured Pakistan, Jimmy Anderson was just a young bloke trying to find his feet in the international arena. 17 years later, he is a legend on the verge of breaking a ton of records and having already picked up the most wickets by a pacer in the red ball format.

England had done pretty well in the short span under Brendon McCullum and Ben Stokes having won the series vs New Zealand 3-0, the one match against India and the series to South Africa 2-1. In each of these games, the hallmark of their cricket was controlled aggression and positive attitude, trying to counterattack the opposition.

Prior to the series, Baz was vocal about his team’s attitude in the pre-match conference, admitting that they would like to go to any extent in order to force a result, irrespective of which side of the coin they end up on.

England had their own issues before the game, with a handful of players falling ill and they were forced to field an unbalanced playing XI with just three genuine bowlers. Will Jacks was informed of his debut on that very morning and so was Ollie Pope of his wicket keeping duties.

England clearly came with a positive approach and that was evident in the first over of the first day, when Zak Crawley hit 3 fours. And since then, they never looked back. They scored more than 500 runs in 75 overs on Day 1 with 4 of their batters- Zak Crawley, Ben Duckett, Ollie Pope, and Harry Brook notching up respective 100s.

Pic Courtesy: @TOI Sports/Twitter

Harry Brook became only the fourth player in the history of Test Cricket to smash six boundaries in an over and the victim was Saud Shakeel. And then they bowled out their skins on a benign track to gain a handy 78 run lead in the 1st innings, with the debutant Will Jacks picking up a six-for. 

Pakistan had to toil hard on Day one as England took full toll of the flatbed and the discernible inexperience in their bowling lineup. Naseem Shah picked up a three for and Zahid Mahmood got 4 despite going for plenty. They batted pretty well in the 1st innings with three of their batsmen, Imam, Shafique and Babar scoring glorious tons.

And then England came out in an even higher gear in the 2nd innings, scoring at 7+ and took a brave call to declare with a target of 342, leaving 4 sessions for Pakistan to achieve the target on a road of a pitch with absolutely nothing for the bowlers. At one stage, England were playing as if it was the slog over time of T20s and kept slogging every ball. This was in fact a pretty bold declaration but with England playing with the mindset they are having at the moment; they were definitely not going to take a step back. 

High skill fast bowling on roller coaster last day:

And then happened a scintillating final day of Test cricket at Rawalpindi as England wrapped up the Test with a win by 74 runs. Pakistan were clearly the favorites going to tea but then the experienced campaigner, Jimmy Anderson, accompanied by his young apprentice, Ollie Robinson produced a sensational spell of fast bowling as England dislodged the last 5 wickets for just 9 runs. And then the roar as Leach gets the final wicket and helped England register one of their finest ever Test victories overseas.

England chased down mammoth totals under the Stokes-McCullum era with some aggressive batting previously, which might fail in certain conditions but this was a true test of patience and valor for their talismanic captain, Ben Stokes- and he yet again passed with flying colors; this man just thrives under pressure.

Pic Courtesy: @Cricket World/Twitter

It was great planning from Stokes who decided to take the new ball late on Day 4 and accompany Robinson in the short ball ploy to get rid of Shafique and Babar. And then kept on persisting with the old ball to let the pace duo of Robinson and Anderson operate with some good reverse swing. Statistically, pacers enjoy more in the 4th innings of a test at Rawalpindi more than anywhere else. Pakistan had their moments but England were just too good on the day. 

England might well have lost the match today and received harsh criticism for dangling the carrot too much. But with this mentality, they are surely going to win more often than not in the upcoming future. Test cricket needs this kind of mentality and such a captain can sometimes make wonders, adding a new flavor to their game.

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