Mohammad Hafeez (380 runs at 63) – Got the series off to a fine start for his team with 98 in Abu Dhabi and ensured a good finish too with a second innings 151 in Shajah that ensured that England’s chance of drawing the series was remote. Would have fancied a bowl if not banned, but even that worked in Pakistan’s favour by allowing a route back into the Test team for Shoaib Malik who played one monumental innings and bowled with great wit and craft throughout. For such an experienced player, “The Professor” was always likely to be involved in a run out, the spirit of Inzy not entirely departed from the team with the star on their caps
Shan Masood (58 runs at 15) – Jimmy Anderson sorted him out, a rare failure in Pakistan’s top six.
Azhar Ali (34 runs at 17, 0 wicket for 7 runs) – Brought back in the unfamiliar role of opener to face England’s most effective new ball pairing in history, somewhat undercooked – and it showed. Likely to exact some revenge next summer in England.
Shoaib Malik (292 runs at 49, 11 wickets at 21) – Just batted and batted and batted in Abu Dhabi as he ended a five year exile from the Test XI by carrying forward his white ball form to take his team from 5-1 to 521-7 to put England under pressure that never really abated. If he didn’t get many runs later on, he bowled superbly taking wickets and choking off runs. He surprised everyone by announcing that he has played his last Test, wishing to concentrate on the World Cup 2019 (where he might, of course, be skipper).
Younis Khan (302 runs at 50) – He did not play one of those huge innings that pepper his illustrious career, but did get his customary century and chipped in with handy knocks in all three Tests. Formed a double act with his captain, the two grand old men of Pakistani cricket knowing what to do and when to do it. In at 4, he never left the crease with fewer than 100 posted which, if it doesn’t guarantee a victory, makes it hard for the opposition to forge a win.
Misbah-ul-Haq (352 runs at 59) – As captain was rarely perturbed and never lost his control of the match even when England had a sniff in the gathering gloom on Day Five in Abu Dhabi. That same cold blood allowed him to stick calmly to a policy of blocking the seamers and bamming the spinners, helping him to one of the highest sixes per Test ratios in history – something few would have predicted five years ago. Winning the toss three times was a bonus too. Given what has happened to Pakistan cricket over the last seven years or so, his steering of his country to second place in the ICC rankings is little short of miraculous. And he’s older than Mohammad Yousuf!
Asad Shafiq (326 runs at 59, 0 wicket for 19 runs) – Compact and classy, he seldom catches the eye, but he keeps churning out the runs from Number 6, a more important slot in this team, with its two 10s and two 11s as a tail, than in other Test batting line-ups. Just doesn’t seem to miss out very often with the bat – via the simple expedient of not missing many balls with the bat.
Sarfraz Ahmed (139 runs at 28, 9 catches and 4 stumpings) – Not at his explosive best with bat in hand, his uncharacteristically subdued 27 in the second innings at Abu Dhabi occupied 49 minutes, time that proved vital when the four men below him faced 14 balls between them and England fell just 25 runs (or probably ten minutes) short of going 1-0 up. Looks a manufactured keeper behind the wickets, but serviceable by today’s standards.
Wahab Riaz (30 runs at 8, 8 wickets at 43) – Is that all he did? The numbers don’t tell the full story as his hostility, magnificently maintained, was the catalyst that turned the series Pakistan’s way after England were blown away, losing 7-36 on that horrid third morning in Dubai. The strong lefty loomed as large as Mitchell Johnson in that long spell and, if he didn’t reach those heights again, he had Yasir Shah to do the job for the bowling unit.
Yasir Shah (27 runs at 9, 15 wickets at 22) – A matchwinner. The squat leg-spinner drives through the crease with great energy imparting sufficient revs on the ball to get the in drift before it grips and jumps away from the right-hander’s bat. He possesses a decent googly too and, if not quite in the Shane Warne class, he’s as good as Stuart MacGill with the potential to fill the considerable boots of Abdul Qadir in Pakistan cricket. Like that old magician, he wears his heart on his sleeve – watch the bars empty when he has a ball in his hand come July and August in England.
Zulfiqur Babar (10 runs at 3, 9 wickets at 45)- Another who bowled batter than his figures suggest, looping the ball in from wide round the wicket before turning it for bowled and LBW chances. At 36, he’s yet another player who had to wait his turn behind more celebrated names, but he has the talent and the temperament for Test cricket and might play five years yet.
Rahat Ali (4 runs at 2, 4 wickets at 39) – Bustled in and was never less than a handful with his left-armers that slid mainly away from the bat with the occasional one twisting back in. Not as good as Trent Boult, but a competent performer, who knocked over Joe Root and James Taylor just when England were sensing a big first innings lead in Sharjah.
Imran Khan (o runs at 0, 6 at 25) – Plenty of smarts from the bowler with the famous name, as he wobbled the ball a bit this way and a bit that way to pick up wickets regularly. He might enjoy himself in English conditions in 2016