England have levelled their four-match series against Pakistan at 1-1 after sealing an emphatic victory on day four of the second Test.
Having inexplicably chosen not to enforce the follow on on Sunday (24 July) with the tourists all out for 198 and trailing by 391, Alastair Cook's side, beaten at Lord's in the opener, at least partially vindicated the captain's baffling decision by coasting to a 330-run triumph at Emirates Old Trafford. However, a comprehensive win was overshadowed by another injury sustained by Ben Stokes.
Cook, resuming on 49, drove Rahat Ali for four to reach his 50th and quickest Test half-century and Joe Root swiftly followed suit by bringing up his equal-fastest 38-ball 50 by sweeping a toiling Yasir Shah for four. The duo continued to dominate and reached scores of 76 and 71 not out respectively before finally opting to end the charade and declare before midday at 173-1 with a mammoth lead of 564.
Faced with a truly daunting chase or one-and-a-half days at the crease to force an unlikely draw, Pakistan lost two early wickets to James Anderson.
The veteran Lancashire seamer, controversially ruled out of the first Test with a stress fracture of the right shoulder blade suffered against Sri Lanka that led to a distracting row regarding the national selectors' power to effectively veto captain and coach, continued his dominance of Shan Masood by coaxing him into an edge that carried through to Cook stationed at first slip. It is the sixth time in as many innings that the left-handed opener has fallen to the same bowler.
Having already caused Mohammad Hafeez to call for the trainer after a soaring delivery that hit him painfully underneath the arm, Anderson then struck again by trapping Azhar Ali plumb lbw for eight. Younus Khan was handed a reprieve on three when an edge off Stokes was dropped by Cook and the visitors reached lunch with no further loss at 47-2.
Hafeez and Younus looked to be settling into something of a rhythm after the interval and England were dealt that sizeable blow that is likely to have ramifications for the rest of the series when Stokes pulled up with a right calf problem midway through his sixth over of the day. Moeen Ali took over and the Durham all-rounder, making his first international appearance since undergoing surgery to repair a cartilage tear in his left knee two months ago, limped off with a grimace. He will undergo an MRI scan to determine the extent of the damage.
The hosts' fortunes picked up again when Ali had Hafeez, eight short of his own half-ton, caught by Gary Ballance at short leg. Younus also fell to the oft-maligned spinner for 28 when a big slog to the boundary lacked the necessary legs and was comfortably taken by Alex Hales at long on. Chris Woakes' stock continued to rise when he claimed his fifth dismissal of the match to date with a wide yorker that visiting skipper Misbah-ul-Haq chopped back on to his own stumps. Pakistan were 161-5 at tea, but the Warwickshire stalwart soon took another wicket when hotspot proved that Sarfraz Ahmed had gloved his latest delivery down the leg side to fellow wicket-keeper Jonny Bairstow.
An lbw shout from Anderson against Asad Shafiq was initially not given, but England wisely chose to appeal and got their reward when replays showed that the ball had not hit his bat. Yasir narrowly survived being run out in the absence of a direct hit but could not escape also being trapped lbw by Ali. Pakistan were swinging the bat with reckless abandon by this stage and Root got in on the action with just his second ball of the innings when Wahab Riaz, who had been enjoying a heated war of words with Anderson, top edged an attempted sweep and was taken by Cook at fine leg.
Mohammed Amir and Rahat hung around stubbornly, but the winning blow was finally landed by Woakes as the controversial left-armer picked out Stuart Broad at cover. The next instalment of this series begins at Edgbaston on Wednesday 3 August and England will certainly hope that Stokes' injury is not too severe.