Karachi: Pakistan on Sunday celebrated its extraordinary cricket series triumph over world number one Test side England, with former greats hoping the team build on their astonishing turnaround from virtual pariahs.
Pakistan humiliated England by 72 runs in the second Test in Abu Dhabi on Saturday, to clinch an unassailable 2-0 lead in the three-match series, a victory which sent the cricket-mad nation into a frenzy.
Former captain Zaheer Abbas said the spinners made the impossible possible as they wrecked England for 72 - their lowest total against Pakistan in all Tests - after they were set a modest target of 145 to win.
"It's an extraordinary win," Abbas said. "I will give credit to captain Misbah-ul Haq and to spinners as even the best in the world lose courage when they have a meagre 145-run target to defend."
Left-arm spinner Abdul Rehman grabbed a career-best 6-25 while Saeed Ajmal took 3-22 to destroy England for a second consecutive defeat after Pakistan won the first Test in Dubai by 10 wickets.
Iqbal Qasim, a great left-arm spin bowler in his playing days, said the victory would lift Pakistani cricket.
"Pakistan will gain tremendous confidence after this win over the world number one team," said Qasim. "Pakistan outclassed England during the two Tests and now I think all those teams who were not ready to play us will want to compete."
Fellow former spinner Abdul Qadir said Misbah's men had delighted the whole country with their performance.
"The team has lifted the nation by beating the world number one team," said Qadir, who wrecked England for their previous lowest total of 130 in Lahore in 1987. Pakistan had also bowled England for 130 at the Oval in 1954.
"I will give credit to Misbah for the way he is leading the team, and to all the players and the management," said Qadir, hoping Pakistan also win the third Test in Dubai for a clean sweep.
Pakistan Cricket Board chairman Zaka Ashraf was full of praise for Misbah and the team.
"Credit to Misbah for this fabulous win," said Ashraf. "Misbah never looked tense even under extremely (high) pressure moments and that is why his players responded with this impressive win."
Pakistani media also trumpeted the team's win on the main television news and with front-page headlines.
"No. It wasn't a dream. Pakistan's spin merchants ran through a hapless England batting, stealing the unlikeliest of victories from the highest-ranking Test team in the world," the News said under a banner headline "The Triumph".
"By the time Pakistan's spinners were through, the mighty England batsmen had begun to resemble a bunch of amateurish schoolboys. A shell-shocked England had lost to the Pakistani underdogs," the News said.
The paper said the win marked a turnaround in Pakistan cricket.
"Abu Dhabi represented a miraculous turnaround, a triumph of sheer will over adversity. Just over a year ago, the Pakistan team had been as close as it is possible to becoming the pariahs of the cricketing world.
"Shamed and humiliated, three of its players were in prison for spot-fixing, and a combination of politics, intrigue, nepotism and sheer incompetence had taken its toll on the team," said the paper.
College student Farooq Khan said Misbah's men had made the nation proud.
"We hear so many bad things about our cricket team, but in the last two years Misbah and his team have made us proud," said Khan. "We are proud of the team, Misbah and coach Mohsin Khan."