On the smaller pitches, England managed a five-day victory over Pakistan in Rawalpindi with captain Ben Stokes vital.
Encouraging his players to push for more runs – he scored 921 of them across Tests at an astonishing 6.73 an over – Stokes bided his time to take 20 wickets, declaring at tea on the fourth day and putting Pakistan to laughter. 343 to win four rounds, he gave his team a chance.
So with attacking pitches and his decision to delay the introduction of the new second ball while he and his teammates found a replacement for the old one, Stokes helped England chase Pakistan down for 268 on the final evening and secure their third victory in the world.
About Sky Sports’ Nasser Hussain, Test cricket leadership has never been better.
“You think you’ve seen everything in this game – until you see the last five days,” Hussain said.
“There was no reason at all in the game that there should be a result so I think it was the best captaincy in Test cricket I’ve seen to get 20 wickets. I don’t think I’ve seen a better captaincy week.
“Usually you have five days where you get everything [but Stokes did]. The way he sends his strikers out to have fun, score goals, put you ahead of the game and buy you time at the end. So the timing of his announcement was spot on, every thought he made was spot on.
“Keeping the old ball, keeping himself to that old ball. He did well – and his team supported him. They will run into a brick wall for him. Stokes described it as one of England’s great victories – which won and that. It’s hard to argue with that.
“England had to fix everything and they had to walk after a discussion and said they were not going to play. [head coach Brendon] McCullum is taking the public eye on Test cricket. He has changed the mindset of the England team and this time it is changing the face of Test cricket. “
Sky Sports pundit Hussain and former England captain Michael Atherton added: “Captains often make mistakes – especially in the first game – but Stokes made one mistake and got his rewards.
“It was also a smart announcement – even if the match was drawn or Pakistan sneaked home, I don’t think you would have found anyone challenging the decision.
“Intellectually and intellectually, it was brilliant. The way Stokes led, he inspired England to write quickly, to declare, the way he changed his seam gear and then finally took the new ball in the second over.
“I can’t think of any other England team that could have won the game on this pitch, it was so flat that all it took was for a team to score at an incredible rate to give them enough time to win. The run rate was unparalleled.”
Former Sri Lankan batsman Kumar Sangakkara told Sky Sports: “Stokes was brilliant tactically; the idea of delaying the new ball after tea was brilliant, his fields, the way he changed the bowlers and forced the fast bowlers to save himself.
“So, in terms of leadership, what he’s asked his side to do is stop complaining about the game. Can you imagine Jimmy Anderson on the field like this, shaking his heart out and not having a single complaint? As a football player I think he was angry from day one and complaining the whole time. .
“Stokes’ leadership has been exceptional – England were in contention before we started tea and I think he wanted his team to win. When things are tough, it’s easy to go into your shell and say ‘oh, let’s just play. This one is out and I hope for the best in the next Test’ but he saw this as an opportunity. winner.
“They’ve done what they know how to do – get quick, give more, put your heart down, take chances and take risks to win.”
“You can’t play this level of cricket without preparation. It was careful, not just going in and bursting in. England showed that depth.”
Sky Sports pundit Mark Butcher added: “If it’s not the biggest win for England, it’s the biggest win for England that I’ve won in my life.
“You had a team in Pakistan that was almost handed a victory at the plate – ‘there, you did nothing in the game, we’ve won, we’re going to give you another chance to win – and then we’re knocking you down in the best of circumstances ever’.
“It was amazing. It’s not often we get to be here and watch every Test ball but I don’t think I’ve missed a single ball. Winning at home is magical but it’s like the best moment of most of these players’ games.”