England in Pakistan: Andy Zaltzman on an astonishing and record-breaking first Check

Ben Stokes (centre) and his England team-mate celebrate a wicket against Pakistan

Ben Stokes has now led England to seven wins in eight Tests since taking over from Joe Root in April

The Rawalpindi Test defied precedent, expectation, and the accepted bounds of cricketing science.

On a featureless travesty of a cricket pitch that categorically refused to deteriorate – and was estimated by experts to have a half-life not far short of weapons-grade plutonium – in a match shorn of around 10 overs per day by the sun sticking to its scheduled setting time, England concocted one of the most astonishing Test match victories.

Even allowing for the weakness of Pakistan’s bowling attack – they had not fielded an XI with fewer collective career Test wickets since the mid-1950s, when they were a new addition to international cricket – this match should have been a draw. Almost the only feasible path to victory on such a surface, in what was essentially a four-and-a-half day game, was to score something in the region of 921 runs in 136.5 overs, to allow sufficient time to take…