Pakistan have won five Tests at Lord's in their history but surely none of the previous four victories can have been delivered in such dominant fashion as the one they have meted out over the past four days. For just two hours, on the third evening, did the visitors have their backs to the wall and anyone watching could not but conclude that they have been better than England in all facets of the game. The winning margin of nine wickets does not flatter them one bit.
For Pakistan to perform in this manner has been a testament to the players' skill and character as well as to the coaching methods of Micky Arthur and their preparation for this series. The South African coach has focused on improving fitness and making this team more resilient - players who play false shots in the nets are made to do shuttle runs or press-ups - and he was rewarded with a disciplined and determined performance. The strength of their preparation, with three warm-up games plus a Test against Ireland, has been a lesson for others, too.
Given all the handicaps facing Pakistani cricket - lack of international cricket at home, a lack of Test matches - this has been a mighty achievement with contributions throughout the line-up. Nor would anyone bet on them winning the second Test at Headingley next week such is their form and the lack of confidence currently coursing through England's team. Early season English conditions were supposed to make an inexperienced Pakistan team look like the novices but it is the home side who have looked the meek and mild ones.
England's hope for a continuation of the 125 run seventh wicket partnership between Jos Buttler and Dom Bess which saved their blushes yesterday were dashed within two overs of the fourth day's play. Despite Buttler talking up their chances last night, England only had the slimmest chances of avoiding defeat anyway after beginning the day just 56 runs ahead with four wickets remaining but instead of making Pakistan's bowlers work hard for their rewards, England lost four wickets for seven runs in 25 balls.
It was not the opening 20 minutes that those standing in long queues down Wellington Road before the start of play had wanted to see. Even though an England victory was unlikely, a fine, sunny Bank Holiday Sunday morning in London prompted a sizeable number of spectators to turn out in the hope of seeing an England miracle, just as many travelling supporters had done time and again in Australia and New Zealand during the winter. That is what following this England team so often entails now. Hoping for a miracle. And it is the hope that gets you.
Buttler was the first to go, pinned LBW by the excellent Mohammad Abbas, in the second over to a ball which nipped back up the Lord's slope and then ten balls later, Mohammad Amir had Mark Wood caught behind. When Stuart Broad made it three wickets in three overs for Pakistan, edging Abbas to the keeper, England's resistance was all but over and Bess was bowled by Abbas in short order to complete the morning's rout.
Abbas and Amir, two contrasting but complementary bowlers, ended the innings with four wickets apiece. Amir, all pace, swing and aggression, was off his game on the first morning but since then has been top-class from both over and round the wicket while Abbas, just 80mph but disciplined and as skilful as they come, continued his good form after taking nine wickets in the one-off Test against Ireland. He now has 40 Test victims at 16.62.
Although England's capitulation today suggested a team who had given up the ghost, it was the damage done yesterday, when they were reduced to 110 for six after conceding a first innings deficit of 179, which settled this game once and for all. The top order batting in both innings, as well as some sloppy fielding, has cost them this match and it is a huge concern as they travel up to Leeds. They have now lost six of their last eight Test matches and the selectors have some decisions to make for the second Test.
They did at least take one scalp with them. James Anderson produced a beauty which swung away late to bowl Pakistani opener Azhar Ali as the visitors chased down the 64 runs they needed for victory in just 12.4 overs. There were no other wickets for England but the pitch displayed some uneven bounce and turn which suggested a chase of 175 could have been tricky had they been able to muster better batting displays.
Pakistan will now travel north in good spirits and in search of a first series win in England since 1996. The only blot on an otherwise fine match has been the injury to Babar Azam who played so well in their first innings. He has a fractured forearm after being hit by Ben Stokes and will not be fit for Headingley which means Fakhar Zaman is likely to come into the team. Despite the loss of Babar, with a bowling attack in such fine fettle, Pakistan will be strong favourites in Leeds.
Brief scores: England 184 (Alastair Cook 70; Mohammad Abbas 4-23) & 242 (Joe Root 68; Mohammad Amir 4-36) lost to Pakistan 363 (Babar Azam 68; Ben Stokes 3-73) & 66/1 (Haris Sohail 39*) by 9 wickets
Clinical Pakistan brush off England at Lords
Clinical Pakistan brush off England at Lords