By George Marrable
- England beat Pakistan by an innings and 55 runs in the second test
- Victory for the hosts meant the series finished 1-1
- Man of the Match Jos Buttler starred for England with an unbeaten 80*
LEEDS, ENGLAND – After a crushing defeat in the first test, Joe Root and his England side levelled the series with Pakistan after a devastating performance in all departments, and the game brought up many talking points for both sides.
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Dom Bess showed his potential
After an underwhelming performance in the first test, Dom Bess bounced back with a much stronger performance at Headingley. Finishing the game wicketless at Lords, Bess finally picked up his first test wicket, finishing with 3-33 in Pakistan’s second innings.
With Moeen Ali being dropped from the side, Bess did himself no harm in the second test in all departments. With the ball, he found a much more probing line just outside of off-stump, rather than bowling straighter. However, with the bat, Bess made 49 despite coming in as night-watchman.
Bess looked assured at the crease, batting much more competently than was expected from a lower order batsman. And, to top the performance off, he took a very good catch to dismiss Haris Sohail. It was a promising performance from a very talented young cricketer, preparing him for a massive test against India in August.
Jos Buttler is what England’s lineup has been missing
Jos Buttler’s destructive score of 80* was vital in England’s total, being the only player to push on and score more than a half century. After a good individual performance in a disappointing team effort at Lords, Buttler showed his worth on his return to the side.
The batsman had been on fire in the IPL this winter, whilst constantly performing for England in one-day cricket. However, his inclusion in the test side is a welcome addition to their batting troubles.
With Buttler down the order, they have added fire-power and aggression and someone who is adding crucial runs against the old ball and tiring bowlers. But he is by no means treating it as a one day game.
At the beginning of his innings, Buttler allowed himself time to assess the pitch and the Pakistan bowlers, batting carefully and measured, before putting them to the sword. If he can continue his form, he could be a vital addition to the team.
Massive improvement in England’s fielding standards
After a difficult winter, England’s struggles in all departments have been accentuated. Fielding was one of their struggles, especially their difficulties in the slips, having seen a number of opportunities dropped in recent tests.
However, the Headingley test showed a marked improvement in the England fielding standards. Alastair Cook, who has dropped many in recent tests due to confusion with ‘keeper Jonny Bairstow, took an excellent catch, as well as Dawid Malan and Joe Root all taking catches in the slips.
Whilst one game does not guarantee a consistent improvement, it certainly shows that things are heading in the right direction. Their positioning within the slip cordon, and spacing between each fielder seems much more balanced, making fielders much more comfortable with taking catches that come their way.
More balanced batting lineup
This second test with Pakistan saw many changes to the England lineup; some forced, some voluntary. Mark Stoneman was replaced at the top of the innings by Keaton Jennings; Sam Curran made his debut and Chris Woakes returned to the side.
Jennings’ performance at the top of the order, despite making just 29, will have impressed England selectors and fans. His technique looked much more assured, playing confidently coming forward to the new ball.
With Buttler down the order, they have the added aggression and a player than could form some destructive partnerships with Bairstow and Ben Stokes in coming test matches. Bess also will be able to operate effectively with the bat lower down the order, as well as Curran being a competent batsman.
The new additions to the side allow for a much stronger linuep, as well as being overall much more balanced, with a shorted tail and added aggression into the side.
Young Pakistan side are promising, but have a long way to go
The Pakistan side that toured England was a very young, promising squad of players, and they did themselves no harm in some challenging English conditions.
The first test showed their promise, dominating England with the ball. The experience of Mohammed Amir, mixed with the fairly new addition of Mohammad Abbas gave them an extremely exciting opening bowling attack. The attack also lacked their star spinner, Yasir Shah.
And, with young batsmen like Usman Salahuddin, they have a crop of players that can play exciting cricket, but that still need to hone their skills.
England next play in an ODI match against Scotland in Edinburgh on Sunday 10thJune.
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