There was fight, there was disappointment, there was courage, and most importantly there was unpredictability - the England Tests served as an all-in-one package of Pakistan cricket. But the series is now over and what it means is that it’s scrutiny time. Let’s bring out the report cards, shall we?
Shan Masood - C
A huge, huge disappointment - especially after starting the series off with a 156. Looked like a ‘Man of the Series’ candidate after one innings, but failed inconceivably and devolved with each knock. Ended up contributing way less than he should have.
Abid Ali - C
Much in contrast to Masood, got better as the series progressed but, nevertheless, exposed several technical chinks that made it impossible to post a big score. Showed great mettle; might be a handful for the side on flat wickets back home.
Azhar Ali - C+
Saved captaincy and career through an exquisite, unblemished ton in the final Test but was guilty of putting the side into precarious positions one too many times. Did well to iron out flaws in the last Test, but will have a lot of questions to answer regarding both captaincy and batting. Captaincy, in particular, was questionable and underwhelming and cost Pakistan the first Test.
Babar Azam - B
Showed glimpses of greatness and reaffirmed that he was an improved Test cricketer, but ended up under-contributing. Conversion of starts was poor and squandered multiple chances to get big runs and put the side into dominant positions. Had a promising series, nevertheless.
Asad Shafiq - F
Had no good knocks across the series, struggled from start to finish and failed to put experience and seniority to good use. Was the easiest prey for England all series and ended up being a burden to his own side. Zero positive takeaways across three Tests.
Fawad Alam - D
Caught the attention of people through stance, but failed to do the same through weight of runs. Looked ‘okay’ in the third Test but failed to grab the opportunity with both hands. No clear indications of an improvement, but might have earned another opportunity through some doughty batting and effective bowling.
Mohammad Rizwan - A+
Player of the series and find of the series for Pakistan. Flawless with the gloves behind the stumps across all three Tests and fabulously organized with bat in hand. Played one of the knocks of the series in second Test under nightmarish conditions and helped Pakistan save the third by supporting skipper Azhar. Will exit the series as a completely different man and might have ended the red-ball career of Sarfaraz Ahmed.
Shadab Khan - B
Was unlucky to be dropped after first Test but showcased talent and potential with both bat and ball. Was overshadowed by Yasir Shah with ball, but showed range with bat through a fine 45 at Old Trafford. Showed he has ability to be a spin-bowling all-rounder who can bat at No.6, but, as of now, is a raw x-factor player of the Sam Curran mould.
Yasir Shah - A
By far the pick of the bowlers for Pakistan and toiled hard throughout the series to make up for the impotency of the pace unit. Was unfortunately let down by teammates across all three Tests but reminded the world why he was one of the best. Bowled much, much better than the statistics - 11 wickets @ 33.45 - suggest and did everything possible to help Pakistan draw the series. Like Rizwan, extremely unfortunate to be on the losing end.
Mohammad Abbas - C+
Started the tour in flawless, exemplary fashion but lost fizz in bowling as the series progressed. Showcased metronomic accuracy across all three Tests but failed to provide cutting edge, especially on a flat wicket in the third Test. Was pick of all three Pakistan seamers but ultimately ended up under-performing, being the leader of the attack.
Shaheen Shah Afridi - C
Showed great proficiency with new ball and had English batsmen fear for their wickets with some prodigious swing bowling, but degraded and failed to maintain intensity across spells. Largely rendered effective with old ball and did not make great use of height, being the tallest seamer across both sides. Showed great promise, but inexperience overshadowed talent.
Naseem Shah - C
Bowled much better than numbers - 3 wickets at 69.33 - suggest and was unfortunate to have been at the heart of harsh criticism. But like Shaheen, looked directionless due to lack of experience and was guilty of being too one-dimensional. Found great pace and troubled batsmen with the occasional snorters, but failed to generate lateral movement and bowled too short throughout the series. Talent and potential was evident, but will need more matches under his belt.
Grades of Pakistan cricketers:
A+ - Mohammad Rizwan
A - Yasir Shah
B - Babar Azam, Shadab Khan
C+ - Azhar Ali, Mohammad Abbas
C - Shan Masood, Abid Ali, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Naseem Shah
D - Fawad Alam
F - Asad Shafiq