It took until the final day of the final Test but Pakistan at last managed a reprise of England's 2012 nightmare against spin. They needed less than half of the overs available to polish off victory in Sharjah, Yasir Shah taking the first and last wickets to fall as Pakistan romped home by a 127-run margin for a 2-0 win that will lift them to No. 2 in the ICC Test rankings.

Alastair Cook resisted almost until the end, ninth man out for 63, but his team had been cut adrift during a dizzying first hour when they lost 4 for 11 in five overs. England were competitive for all but two sessions in the series but on both occasions, here and in Dubai, Pakistan were ruthless enough to seize the win.

The conditions were perhaps not as treacherous as England's batsmen made them look but Yasir and Zulfiqar Babar did not need encouragement to prey on the slightest hesitation or indecision. They collected six wickets of the eight remaining wickets, evoking the damage inflicted by Saeed Ajmal and Abdur Rehman last time around, not to mention their own exploits against Australia and New Zealand 12 months ago.

With Shoaib Malik completing his final Test appearance by taking a seven-wicket haul, it meant Pakistan's spinners had collected 9 for 101 in England's second innings. That was nearly half as many wickets as England's trio of Moeen Ali, Adil Rashid and Samit Patel managed in the entire series. With 15 from just two Tests, Yasir reigned supreme.

Defeat by a two-Test margin means England will slip to No. 6 in the rankings, another UAE comedown after the euphoria of Ashes victory during the summer, though they were handicapped in their efforts to level the series by the injury to Ben Stokes on the first day. He came out to bat at No. 10 in the second innings, despite the forlorn match situation and a strapped-up shoulder, before a leg-side stumping off Yasir ended England's pain.

 

Pakistan's legspinner had trained with Shane Warne before the match and this was a final-day dismantling the Australian would have been proud of. Joe Root, the No. 1-ranked batsman recently referred to by a team-mate as one of the best players of spin in the world, was trapped lbw by Yasir's fourth ball of the morning, back when he should have been forward, and it caused a detonation is brutally effective as pulling the pin from a grenade.

 

England have shown plenty of guts against Pakistan this time around but here they were swiftly disembowelled. A target of 284 was well beyond anything England had previously managed to Asia but their displays of resilience on tour had encouraged some to think they might get close.

That hope disappeared quicker than a lizard darting under a rock. Root was pinned in front of leg stump by a delivery that kept low in the second over of the day, plumb enough not to bother with a review, and James Taylor only lasted long enough to bring up England's 50 before he drawn fatally forward by flighted delivery from Babar that turned to kiss the edged of a slightly crooked bat and end up at slip.

Pakistan had wasted their reviews on the previous day but they need not have worried. Before their final innings in Sharjah, England had been on the receiving end of just three lbw decisions, but the problem of playing the ball with their pads returned on the most exacting surface of the series and that total was more than doubled, starting with Moeen's dismissal on the fourth evening.

Jonny Bairstow and Patel fell in such fashion in successive overs, the latter for a golden duck, as England's slide became terminal, losing 3 for 2 in 12 deliveries. Bairstow was hit on the thigh pad in front of middle stump trying to sweep his way out of trouble, England's final review burned in the process, and Patel succumbed to the contagion by missing a straight one from Babar that would have clipped leg.

From 59 for 6, and with visions of Abu Dhabi three years ago - when they were dismissed for 72 chasing 145 - swimming through addled English minds, Cook and Rashid did a respectable patch-up job, adding 49 for the seventh wicket and briefly bringing a sense of calm to proceedings. Rashid has demonstrated a propensity for fifth-day heroics but this was beyond even him and Rahat Ali brought the ball back to defeat a loose drive shortly before lunch.

Cook alone weathered the desert storm, maintaining his focus even as the ball beat the bat or rapped the pads and Pakistani appeals tore the air. He narrowly avoided falling to Yasir's leg trap again on 20 and a top-edged sweep off Malik landed a yard short of deep square leg having made 44. He remained defiant, skipping out to loft Babar for a one-bounce four over long-on and reverse-sweeping another boundary off Yasir but with Stokes for company and the pips thoroughly squeaked he walked past a delivery from Malik to be stumped for only the third time in his Test career.

Cook faced more than 900 balls faced in the series, another half-century taking him clear at the top of the run-scorers' list. But such an outstanding individual contribution could not compete with Pakistan's collective brilliance.

Courtesy Cricinfo