Agha Salman had hit Mark Wood for two fours to bring Pakistan’s target to 27, but that exposed No.11 Mohammad Ali at the other end. Ben Stokes replaced Jack Leach, and Ollie Robinson’s first ball found Ali’s edge. Ali reviewed, more out of desperation than anything, but the result stayed.
England took an unassailable 2-0 lead in the three-match Test series. This is the first time since 2000/01 that they won a Test series on Pakistan soil. The result also pushed Pakistan further away from the 2021-23 World Test Championship final, to be played in June 2023 at The Oval.
However, there is still hope for Pakistan. To recap: the WTC table is ordered by points won per points contested (PCT). Pakistan have 56 points from 132, or 42.42 PCT. If they win all three remaining Tests – the third match against England and two against New Zealand at home this December and January – they will get to 92 points in 14 matches, in other words, 54.76 PCT. For them to qualify, they will need at least two teams to finish with a smaller PCT.
At this point, Australia are on 108 points from 12 matches (75 PCT). They have seven Test matches left. If they lose six of the seven, their PCT will drop below Pakistan’s. However, they play South Africa and India, also in the race for the WTC final, so this scenario would require those two teams to drop significant points elsewhere. For example, if South Africa beat Australia 2-1 and draw in the West Indies, they would overtake Pakistan. Likewise if India beat Australia 3-1 and draw in Bangladesh. And if Australia lose all seven Tests, then India and South Africa could afford to lose 2-0 to Bangladesh and West Indies respectively and will still be ahead of Pakistan.
Still, there are some scenarios that would see Pakistan make the final. Perhaps a more likely route is to hope for Australia to dominate the rest of the competition. If the Aussies beat South Africa 3-0, then a 2-0 win in the Caribbean would not be enough for the Proteas to overtake Babar Azam’s side. Similarly, if Australia secure any sort of series win in India, then India wouldn’t be able to catch Pakistan’s highest possible points tally.
The other wrinkle is that Sri Lanka are still in contention, and if they beat New Zealand in New Zealand, they will overtake Pakistan’s highest possible points tally.
To sum up: Pakistan need to win all three Tests, need the Black Caps to avoid a series defeat to Sri Lanka, and need one of the following scenarios: Australia lose six and win one against South Africa and India, and for the team Australia beat to lose their other series; Australia whitewash South Africa or beat India; South Africa and India both struggle against West Indies and Bangladesh, and fail to dominate Australia.
Australia need one win and two draws, two wins, or five draws to overtake Pakistan. South Africa need two wins and a draw, or one win and four draws. India need four wins or three wins and two draws. Sri Lanka need a win and a draw. If two of those teams achieve those results or better, Pakistan are out. But it is possible that three out of four fail.
Pakistan are still hanging in there – but only just.