MANCHESTER // England overcame the injury-enforced absence of Ben Stokes to trounce Pakistan by 330 runs, with more than a day to spare, and level the four-match series at Old Trafford.
The runs margin of success is in England’s all-time top five, almost as emphatic as the 354 by which they beat the same opponents in Nottingham on their last tour six years ago.
It means too the scoreline is 1-1 with two to play, starting at Edgbaston next Wednesday.
But after James Anderson, Moeen Ali and Chris Woakes took three wickets each in Pakistan’s 234 all out, the significant cloud on England’s horizon is the extent of Stokes’s calf injury, set to become clear only after he undergoes MRI scans on Tuesday.
The all-rounder pulled up mid-over on the fourth afternoon, his first England appearance since he limped out of the action at Headingley in May and subsequently needed surgery on his left knee.
This time it was his right leg which gave way, leaving England to fire on four rather than five cylinders after Alastair Cook had left them 185 overs to bowl Pakistan out.
The captain, who courted controversy by failing to enforce the follow-on despite a mammoth lead of 391 the previous afternoon, hit an unbeaten 76 alongside Joe Root (71 not out) in a rollicking stand of 105 before declaring on 173 for one and setting Pakistan an entirely notional world-record 565 to win.
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• Day 2, stumps: Alastair Cook, refusing follow on, leaves Pakistan needing to rewrite record books
The relevant equation was not that, of course, but the task of taking 10 wickets inside five-and-a-half sessions.
It took less than five overs, in fact, before Anderson made the first incision when he yet again saw off opener Shan Masood cheaply.
Since the tall left-hander first faced England’s all-time leading wicket-taker in Abu Dhabi last October, he has been out to him six times.
The latest was a tame edge pushing forward to one slanted across him.
It was Anderson who struck again too before lunch, No 3 Azhar Ali playing across a straight one to be lbw.
Pakistan would have been 32 for three, had Cook taken a regulation slip catch off Stokes when Younus Khan was on three.
It was a more significant setback for England when Stokes limped out of the attack, but they soon had two more wickets to celebrate, both from Moeen Ali.
The off-spinner, completing Stokes’s unfinished over, was instantly struck over long-on for six by Mohammed Hafeez.
But he got his revenge when the opener fell bat-pad, eight short of his 50, and then Younus’s attempt to hit Moeen for another six resulted instead in a running boundary catch for Alex Hales.
It was a bold option taken by the veteran middle-order batsman, with the man back on the fence, and one he paid for when he failed to clear.
A bigger blow still was to follow for Pakistan when their captain Misbah-ul-Haq, the only substance in their misfiring first innings, succumbed to a slower full-length ball from Woakes which he contrived to squeeze back on to his stumps from outside off.
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