BIRMINGHAM: Pakistan skipper Misbah-ul-Haq believed the 141-run defeat at Edgbaston in the third Test against England was due to the host pacers' reverse-swing, which left his batsmen clueless after lunch on the final day.
Pakistan, set a huge target of 343 for victory after England declared on 445 for six early on Sunday’s final day, were dismissed for 201.
Misbah's men suffered a dramatic middle-order collapse shortly before tea as they lost four wickets for just one run in 23 balls.
They had been comfortably placed at 69 for one come lunch but lost six wickets in the second session as England made the most of the slight reverse swing on offer.
Misbah, one of the quartet of batsmen who succumbed in the pre-tea collapse, said: “Until lunch it was easy, nothing happening. But after lunch they got it reversing, and we were not having any clue.”
However, he added: “The good thing is this match is gone.
“We have one game left — we can win it and square the series — that's what we have to think.”
This was Pakistan's second heavy defeat in as many matches following their 330-run reverse in the second Test at Old Trafford and again demonstrated how an attack featuring just four frontline bowlers can tire badly in the latter stages.
One consolation was the form of recalled opening batsman Sami Aslam, with the left-hander demonstrating remarkable composure for a 20-year-old during excellent innings of 82 and 70.
“He looks a compact player and has shown great temperament,” said Misbah of Aslam.
“I am happy that he did well against this type of bowling.”
'Further to go'
England captain Alastair Cook insisted his side had “further to go” after the big win at Edgbaston gave them a chance to top the world Test rankings before the end of their home season.
Victory in south London will see England back on top of the International Cricket Council's Test rankings for the first time since 2012 provided India do not win the last two Tests of their ongoing series in the West Indies.
Not that Cook was getting carried away by the prospect.
“If we do win at The Oval, I wouldn't say we are anywhere near our potential,” he said.
“If we become number one there, that's fantastic — but it will be a bit of an irrelevance, because this side has still got much further to go.
“I thought that might come in a couple of years' time.”
England were behind in the game until Cook (66) and Alex Hales (54) wiped out the first-innings deficit with their first century stand as a Test-match opening pair.
Joe Root (62) helped consolidate England's recovery before Jonny Bairstow (83) and Moeen Ali (86 not out) took the match away from Pakistan in Saturday's last session.
Their sixth-wicket partnership of 152 eventually ended shortly before Cook declared early on Sunday.
“Everyone responded, and I think this side might have just toughened up a little bit,” said Cook.
“We were never leading it — but then, when we got our chance yesterday (Saturday) afternoon, Mo and 'Bluey' (Bairstow) put the pressure on them,” he added.
“Then we bowled brilliantly too.”
What pleased Cook most, however, was seeing his side win from an unpromising position.
“This is the first one in a while we've been behind and fought back.”