Multan: Mark Wood destroyed Pakistan hopes with his fearsome pace and led aggressive England to a sensational 26-run victory inside four days in the second Test on Monday.
Pakistan, in pursuit of a challenging victory target of 355, was bowled out for 328 within an hour after lunch on Day 4 to send England into the third match with an insurmountable 2-0 lead in its first Test tour of Pakistan in 17 years.
England won the first test by 74 runs in dimming light on the last day through the aggressive approach that has now brought them eight victories in their past nine Tests under new coach Brendon McCullum and captain Ben Stokes.
“Going down to the wire again, good game to be a part of,” Stokes said.
“We were fortunate that with the cracks opening up our seamers became effective. Jimmy, Robbo and Woody put in a seriously good effort, so hats off to the lads. The way they bowled throughout the game, they looked a huge threat.”
Wood grabbed 4-65 including a contentious, game-changing, caught behind decision which denied lefthander Saud Shakeel (94) his maiden Test hundred before lunch.
Shakeel’s patient, third successive half century in just over five hours nearly pulled off Pakistan’s highest-ever successful chase in a home Test after the hosts resumed on Day 4 on 198-4, needing a further 157.
Shakeel shared 80-run stand with Mohammad Nawaz (45) before Wood struck in his first over with the second new ball. He first had Nawaz caught down the legside off a short ball and then ended Shakeel’s defiance with another short ball in the same area.
Wicketkeeper Ollie Pope took a low catch down the legside after Wood got Shakeel tangled. The third umpire, Joel Wilson of the West Indies, ruled in the bowler’s favor after viewing several replays, after onfield umpire Aleem Dar referred the decision with a soft signal of out.
“We felt from outside that the ball had touched the ground but as a professional you have to follow the umpire’s decision,” Pakistan captain Babar Azam said.
“We were not up to the mark in the first innings and had a couple of soft dismissals. We fought back in the second innings, but unfortunately, we could not finish it.”
Pakistan had conceded a significant 79-run lead after it lost seven wickets for 37 runs and was bowled out for 202. Debutant legspinner Abrar Ahmed, who picked up seven wickets in England’s first innings of 281, ended up with 11-234 in the game as England was bowled out for 275 in the second innings for an overall lead of 354 runs.
Resuming on 198-4 with still 157 required, Pakistan lost Faheem Ashraf (10) in the day’s sixth over when Joe Root had the lefthander caught at slip as Stokes chose to deploy spinners from one end.
Shakeel and Nawaz stifled England for nearly 22 overs before Wood struck twice in quick succession to raise England’s hope of clinching the three-match series late in the first session.
But Shakeel, resuming on 54, and Nawaz, thwarted England’s seam and spin bowlers, rising in confidence even after England took the second new ball with Pakistan still needing 109 runs.
Fast bowler Ollie Robinson thrice went past Nawaz’s bat, but the lefthander showed aggression against Root and leftarm spinner Jack Leach with some crisp boundaries before Stokes turned to the pace of Wood and gained two crucial wickets.
Ahmed made a brisk 17 that featured three extravagant boundaries against Wood in one over after lunch before England seamers Robinson (2-23) and James Anderson (2-44) wrapped up the tail to seal England win.