After the discipline of Lord’s, the collective brain-fade at Headingley. If Pakistan were undone by good bowling in the first innings on the first day in Leeds, they were undone by their own urges on the third.
At least five of their top eight fell to poor strokeplay, one caught at mid-on, another at mid-off, a third down the leg side, a fourth slogging, yet another playing across the line. It was the result, according to the captain, of a combination of factors.
“We lacked discipline in batting in both the innings,” Sarfraz Ahmed said. “I think they also bowled well on the first day, but we had to play well in this innings and unfortunately we didn’t bat well as a unit.
“A lead of 180-plus put pressure on us and we committed mistakes. And our batting unit is young so they will learn from the mistakes.”
Thus in a rush of poor strokes ended a tour of considerable promise and with some gains for Pakistan. It wasn’t thought implausible before Pakistan arrived here that they might leave without a win.
And Sarfraz had insisted all along that this would be a tour where they had everything to learn and nothing to lose. In that sense, the progress made by the likes of Babar Azam, Shadab Khan and Faheem Ashraf will have been especially pleasing.
“If you see when we came here people thought that we will not win one game but the way we played at Lord’s everything was perfect, our fast bowling was perfect, our batting and fielding were perfect,” Sarfraz said.
“It’s disappointing that we had a chance to win the series but unfortunately we didn’t play well here. I am proud of my young team, the way [Mohammad] Abbas is bowling. Shadab is doing well, Faheem did well so really disappointed that we didn’t win but 1-1 is a good result for us.”
The problem, as it has been for several years now is that Pakistan’s Test players – such as Azhar Ali, Asad Shafiq and Mohammad Abbas – will be out of action until October, when they next play the longest format. There are plenty of white-ball commitments until then but developing a Test side that remains in seventh place in that kind of calendar becomes a challenge.
“We played our last Test in October so it’s difficult when you play a Test after five or six months,” he said. “Test cricket is a different format, you have to adjust to five-day cricket.
“So it’s tough for the Test players, like Abbas who played his last Test in October. It’s tough but as a professional you have to adjust. We didn’t play well in this Test but in the last two Tests we played well. The more you play Test cricket, you get to mature as Test player. Now we have five Tests in UAE [two against Australia and three against NZ], and then we have three in South Africa and that will help us mature.”