Controversial catch overshadows England's series clinching Test
- Publish Date
- Tuesday, 13 December 2022, 9:00AM
England captain Ben Stokes believes wicketkeeper Ollie Pope grabbed a clean catch to dismiss Pakistan batter Saud Shakeel in his team’s series-deciding win in the second test overnight.
“No doubt about that (catch) in my mind,” Stokes said after Pakistan was bowled out for 328 an hour into the second session and fell 26 runs short of the 355-run target on the fourth day as England took an unassailable 2-0 lead in the three-match series
“The only thing where you start worrying is when it gets looked at for a long period of time because that’s when you start having doubt in your own head,” Stokes added. “I’ve been part of games before where I’ve been on the team who’s been on the receiving end of those decisions and you’re always like, ‘that’s not carried.’”
Shakeel battled gallantly for just over 5-1/2 hours in making 94 off 213 balls against the pace and spin before Mark Wood tangled the lefthander down the legside just before the lunch interval and Pope claimed a low two-handed catch to his right and reduced Pakistan to 291-7 by lunch.
Television umpire Joel Wilson of the West Indies upheld onfield umpire Aleem Dar’s soft signal of out as he took several minutes and watched the replays from various angles.
But cricket fans were convinced the ball touched the ground as Pope tried to snag the catch.
Former England skipper Michael Atherton said in commentary: “In the third umpire’s view, he thinks Pope got his gloves underneath the ball. I think you could argue otherwise.”
Ex-England quick Steve Finn added the home side were unlucky.
“We could have this debate forever, but Ollie Pope to me doesn’t look convinced when he looks up to celebrate,” Finn told Sky Sports Cricket.
“For me, you can just see the taped-up finger come out the back of the ball there slightly, which suggests it may have touched the ground. But I also think you have to respect the on-field umpire’s decision.”
Shakeel’s dismissal took the game away from Pakistan before England folded the tail after lunch for its second absorbing win in the last two weeks.
“You see a lot of lot of those decisions and those type of catches in cricket,” Stokes said. “It went our way, but I’ve been involved in a few decisions where stuff like that has gone against us, but you can’t change that.”
Pakistan captain Babar Azam believed the catch cost his team the game. He felt the ball was grounded before it went into Pope’s gloves, but said the teams have to follow the umpires’ decisions.
England, on its first test tour to Pakistan in 17 years, has been on a roll through its aggressive brand of cricket that started in the English summer when it won six of its seven test matches under the captaincy of Stokes and new coach Brendon McCullum.
In the past England had won only two test matches in Pakistan – in 1959 and 2000 – but now has won back-to-back tests in just two weeks on challenging dry, flat and slow turning wickets at Rawalpindi and Multan.
“I think it was another great game, completely different conditions to the first test match,” Stokes said. “We adapted to those conditions and stuck to the way that we wanted to operate. Last week obviously was a very flat wicket, whereas this one was a challenging one, but we still went out and applied ourselves the way that we wanted.”
England showed plenty of aggression on a flat Rawalpindi wicket to win by 74 runs as its batters plundered four centuries in a world-record 506-4 on the opening day.
Wood didn’t figure in the first test as he was still recovering from a hip injury, but the fast bowler bowled with plenty of pace and struck thrice once Stokes took the second new ball with Pakistan still needing 109 runs.
Shakeel and Mohammad Nawaz, who made 45 off 62 balls, had raised Pakistan’s hopes of its highest-ever successful run-chase at home with an 80-run sixth-wicket stand before Wood dismissed both batters with identical short balls down the legside.
“I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t want to be facing bouncers at 145-150 kph with 20 minutes left (for lunch) even if I had faced as many balls as those two,” Stokes said. “That’s what we picked him (Wood) for, to come in, change the game and blow that wicket for us and it was an easy decision to make to bring him on.”
The third and final test begins at Karachi from Saturday.
Take your Radio, Podcasts and Music with you