Ben Stokes’ remarkably brilliant start to his Test captaincy stint has continued, with England holding off a brave and fast-finishing Pakistan to claim a thrilling win in Multan and secure a 2-0 series victory.
Mark Wood grabbed four wickets as England dismissed Pakistan for 328 on Monday and recorded a hard-fought, dramatic 26-run win in the second Test in Multan.
It was England’s eight victory from the nine Tests it has played since Stokes took over as skipper.
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Pakistan, who resumed the fourth day on 4-198 chasing 355 to win, looked set for victory at one point as Mohammad Nawaz and Saud Shakeel put on 80 runs for the sixth wicket. Shakeel hit eight boundaries in his 314-minute vigil as England found wickets hard to come by on a Multan pitch that slowed considerably as the game progressed.
But Wood, who missed England’s 74-run win in the first Test in Rawalpindi with a hip injury, turned the match in England’s favour with the wickets of Nawaz (45) and Shakeel (94) in the space of just 12 balls and one run.
Agha Salman (20*) and Abrar Ahmed (17) threatened late with some strong lower-order hitting as they pushed hard for an unlikely win to keep the series alive
But Abrar’s quickfire cameo came to an end courtesy of Jimmy Anderson, while Salman running out of batting partners.
Wood dismissed Zahid Mahmood without scoring and Ollie Robinson ended the match with the wicket of No. 11 Mohammad Ali for a duck, sparking celebrations in the England camp.
Wood finished with 4-65 for the innings, while Anderson and Robinson took two wickets apiece.
“For Ben Stokes, it seems his team’s mode of cricket is unstoppable,” former England captain David Gower said.
“This win has been very had-earned and very hard-fought
“England must be incredibly proud with the way they’ve led in this series. They’ve set a very different tone – one that’s never been seen before in Pakistan.
“Stokes and (Brendon) McCullum have been just the tonic England cricket needed.”
The win didn’t come without controversy.
Wood forced Shakeel to play a pull off a short ball that caught his glove, with wicket-keeer Ollie Pope taking a diving catch to his left.
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However the third umpire was called upon to judge a tight call on whether Pope got his gloves underneath the ball. The soft call was out — and third umpire Joel Wilson stuck with the on-field call.
“In the third umpire’s view, he thinks Pope got his gloves underneath the ball. I think you could argue otherwise,” ex-England skipper Michael Atherton said in commentary.
Former England paceman Steve Finn said Shakeel might’ve been unlucky.
“We could have this debate forever, but Ollie Pope to me doesn’t look convinced when he looks up to celebrate,” Finn told Sky Sports Cricket.
“For me, you can just see the taped-up finger come out the back of the ball there slightly, which suggests it may have touched the ground. But I also think you have to respect the on-field umpire’s decision.”
Fellow broadcaster Ian Ward added: “The soft signal is given in case technology fails. You can’t say the technology has failed there, but it is inconclusive and, therefore, the protocol is Joel Wilson will follow what the soft signal was.”
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England, on its first Test tour of Pakistan for 17 years, won the first Test by 74 runs in Rawalpindi.
The third and final Test begins in Karachi on Saturday.
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