England v Pakistan: Jonny Bairstow’s defiance not enough as England allow Pakistan in to dream of being top of the world

Pakistan's Azhar Ali hits a six for the winning runs at The Oval against England to square the four-match series. Picture: Adam Davy/PA.
Pakistan's Azhar Ali hits a six for the winning runs at The Oval against England to square the four-match series. Picture: Adam Davy/PA.
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England surrendered their world-beating pretensions to Pakistan in a 10-wicket defeat well inside four days at The Oval.

Much of the talk before this final Test of a fluctuating Investec series was about England’s chances of moving to the top of the International Cricket Council rankings this summer.

Yorkshire's Jonny Bairstow proved defiant for England on day four at The Oval, but his 81 could not prevent a 10-wicket defeat. Picture: Adam Davy/PA.

Yorkshire's Jonny Bairstow proved defiant for England on day four at The Oval, but his 81 could not prevent a 10-wicket defeat. Picture: Adam Davy/PA.

Instead, Yasir Shah (5-71) helped to bowl them out for 253 in their second innings - despite the defiance of Yorkshire’s Jonny Bairstow (81) - and Pakistan duly wiped out the minor arrears of 40.

The series is therefore drawn 2-2, and it is Pakistan who may be set to go top the world for the first time in their history.

That status is dependent on the outcome of other ongoing Test series, but nonetheless gives Misbah-ul-Haq’s tourists extra reason to celebrate their national Independence Day.

England paid the price for conceding a first-innings deficit of 214 - thanks largely to back-to-form Younus Khan’s 218 and a century too from Asad Shafiq.

They had little hope resuming on 88-4, needing another 126 to make Pakistan bat again.

But prolific Yorkshireman Bairstow kept England’s hopes marginally alive in a morning session which contained just the two wickets at the other end.

Bairstow’s third successive half-century took his Test tally for the calendar year ever nearer to 1,000 runs - he was eventually to finish eight short and therefore must wait until Bangladesh in October at the earliest to reach a very notable landmark.

His successive 50 stands with Gary Ballance and Moeen Ali briefly revived suggestions that this match was not yet a done deal.

Bairstow was determined to delay Pakistan as long as possible, but was pro-active too with five fours in his 72-ball 50.

England got through the first 45 minutes without losing a wicket - and early spells from Yasir, Mohammad Amir and Wahab Riaz - before Sohail Khan struck almost immediately.

Ballance pushed out on the back foot at one that just held its line for caught-behind, from only Sohail’s fourth delivery.

But Moeen, whose first-innings 108 followed his twin half-centuries in England’s win at Edgbaston last week, rejoined what has been a fruitful alliance with Bairstow of late.

The sixth-wicket pair were out to augment the 245 runs they added together in their two previous attempts - and by the time Moeen fell just before lunch, they had taken that aggregate above 300.

They registered two contrasting ‘sixes’ in three balls, Bairstow’s scampered two off Amir bringing an increment of four overthrows from wicketkeeper Sarfraz Ahmed and then Moeen up the wicket to hit Yasir over long-on into the pavilion.

However the runs came, on a pitch still favouring the batsmen, England and their supporters were grateful.

But Moeen’s dismissal, caught-behind on the back-foot defence to Yasir by a juggling Sarfraz, was another hammer blow they could ill afford.

Then came Chris Woakes’ run-out soon after lunch, setting off for a faulty single on Bairstow’s call and short of getting back when the bowler Wahab’s throw on the turn from short mid-on was a direct hit.

Bairstow was perhaps still dwelling on that when he poked Wahab for a simple catch to cover from the very next ball - one which ended all the conjecture about an extended fightback.

England nosed ahead on sufferance.

Stuart Broad’s dismissal to a reverse-sweep into the hands of slip presented Yasir with his five-wicket haul.

Then there was a maiden wicket for debutant Iftikhar Ahmed, with his part-time off-spin, to end a last stand of 32 between numbers 10 and 11 when James Anderson was lbw sweeping.

Pakistan needed 13.1 overs to do the necessary, without loss either side of tea, during which Steven Finn pulled up with a hamstring strain which will be scanned on Monday.

England’s often grumpy misadventure here was therefore complete.

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