Single wicket was popular in the 18th and 19th centuries and its matches were generally considered top-class. In this form, although each team may have from one to six players, there is only one batsman in at a time and he must face every delivery bowled while his innings lasts. Single wicket has rarely been played since limited overs cricket began. Matches tended to have two innings per team like a full first-class one and they could end in a draw.
Denness was replaced in 1975 by Tony Greig. While he managed to avoid losing to Australia, his side were largely thrashed the following year by the young and very much upcoming West Indies for whom Greig's infamous "grovel" remark acted as motivation. Greig's finest hour was probably the 1976–77 win over India in India. When Greig was discovered as being instrumental in World Series Cricket, he was sacked, and replaced by Mike Brearley.
Pakistan's first Test match was played in Delhi in October 1952 as part of a five Test series. They lost the first test by an innings and 70 runs. India scored 372 runs in their first innings and Pakistan managed 302 runs in combined both innings. However, it just took seven days to turn things around for the Pakistani's. In second Test match, Pakistan blew India away for 106 before Pakistan, with the help of Hanif Mohammad's 124, scored 331 in their first innings, taking a lead of 225. India were bowled out for 182, giving Pakistan a win by an innings and 43 runs. It was Fazal Mahmood's game as he took 12/94. India won the next match by 10 wickets before the final two test went draw, which resulted India winning series 2–1.
Michael Vaughan took over, with players encouraged to express themselves. England won five consecutive Test series prior to facing Australia in the 2005 Ashes series, taking the team to second place in the ICC Test Championship table. During this period England defeated the West Indies home and away, New Zealand, and Bangladesh at home, and South Africa in South Africa. In June 2005, England played its first ever T20 international match, defeating Australia by 100 runs. Later that year, England defeated Australia 2–1 in a thrilling series to regain the Ashes for the first time in 16 years, having lost them in 1989. Following the 2005 Ashes win, the team suffered from a spate of serious injuries to key players such as Vaughan, Giles, Andrew Flintoff and Simon Jones. As a result, the team underwent an enforced period of transition. A 2–0 defeat in Pakistan was followed by two drawn away series with India and Sri Lanka.
Cricket is one of many games in the "club ball" sphere that basically involve hitting a ball with a hand-held implement; others include baseball, golf, hockey, tennis, squash, badminton and table tennis. In cricket's case, a key difference is the existence of a solid target structure, the wicket (originally, it is thought, a "wicket gate" through which sheep were herded), that the batsman must defend. The cricket historian Harry Altham identified three "groups" of "club ball" games: the "hockey group", in which the ball is driven to and fro between two targets (the goals); the "golf group", in which the ball is driven towards an undefended target (the hole); and the "cricket group", in which "the ball is aimed at a mark (the wicket) and driven away from it".
After Amir, Asif and Butt were dismissed, Pakistan made Misbah ul Haq the new captain of Pakistan. In subsequent series against South Africa in the UAE he led Pakistan in tests. After resignation of Shahid Afridi as test captain and suspension of Salman Butt due to spot-fixing scandal, Misbah was preferred over Younus Khan, Mohammad Yousuf and Kamran Akmal as captain. Wasim Akram stated that although the decision was surprising, if Misbah bats and fields well everything else will go according to plan.
Although the main object of the game has always been to score the most runs, the early form of cricket differed from the modern game in certain key technical aspects. The ball was bowled underarm by the bowler and all along the ground towards a batsman armed with a bat that, in shape, resembled a hockey stick; the batsman defended a low, two-stump wicket; and runs were called "notches" because the scorers recorded them by notching tally sticks.
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The 1938–39 tour of South Africa saw another experiment with the deciding Test being a timeless Test that was played to a finish. England lead 1–0 going into the final timeless match at Durban. Despite the final Test being 'timeless', the game ended in a draw after 10 days as England had to catch the train to catch the boat home. A record 1,981 runs were scored, and the concept of timeless Tests was abandoned. England went on one final tour of the West Indies in 1939 before the Second World War, although a team for an MCC tour of India was selected more in hope than expectation of the matches being played.
The team is considered a strong but unpredictable team. Traditionally Pakistani cricket has been composed of talented players but is alleged to display limited discipline on occasion, making their performance inconsistent at times. In particular, the India-Pakistan cricket rivalry is usually emotionally charged and can provide for intriguing contests, as talented teams and players from both sides of the border seek to elevate their game to new levels. Pakistan team contests with India in the Cricket World Cup have resulted in packed stadiums and highly charged atmospheres. The team is well supported at home and abroad, especially in the United Kingdom where British Pakistanis have formed a fan-club called the "Stani Army". Members of the club show up to matches across the country and are known to provide raucous support. The Stani Army also takes part in charity initiatives for underprivileged Pakistanis, including annual friendly cricket matches against British Indian members of the similar "Bharat Army".
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The tournament did not start well for Pakistan, losing to their arch-rivals India by 124 runs. But as the group stages progressed the bowling attack improved significantly for Pakistan, winning games against South Africa by 19 runs, and a crucial game against Sri Lanka by 3 wickets. This set up a semi-final against hosts and favourites England, where Hasan Ali took 3 wickets to take Pakistan to their first ICC Champions Trophy Final, a highly anticipated re-match with India.