Chris Woakes and Jos Buttler scripted an incredible victory for England in the first Test against Pakistan at Old Trafford on Saturday. The duo shared a ballistic 139-run partnership for the sixth wicket rescue England from 117/5 and take them 1-0 up in the three-match series.
Woakes remained unbeaten in his 120-ball knock of 84 runs after Buttler was sent back to the pavilion at the fag end of England’s chase. The wicketkeeper-batsman contributed 75 runs in 101 deliveries. However, Woakes made sure to see his team through and also hit the winning runs.
Chasing a target of 277 runs, England were put in a tricky situation by the enthusiastic Pakistan attack. Following Rory Burns’ (10 off 28 deliveries) departure, opener Dom Sibley had joined hands with his skipper Joe Root to steady the ship. But the party did not last long and Sibley (36 off 114) was dismissed and their 64-run stand brought to and end.
With a glimpse of hope, Pakistan upped their ante and pushed England on the backfoot with three quick wickets in the next 10 overs. From 86/1, the hosts were reduced to 117/5 as Root (42 off 84) failed to capitalise on his good start and Ben Stokes (9 off 20) and Olie Pope (7 off 18) could not take their numbers to double digit.
It was Buttler and Woakes’ counter knock that stopped the Pakistani charge in the second session. The pair continued their rampage after Tea and both soon raced to their respective half centuries.
When Pakistan captain Azhar Ali pulled his field back to restrict the flow of boundaries, the batsmen started taking more singles and kept the pressure on the fielders. Azhar then burnt two reviews in consecutive overs against Buttler and Woakes off Yasir and Shadab respectively.
With three overs to go for the second new ball, Buttler gave an impetus to England’s cause with a six off Shadab deep into the stands behind cow corner. England’s deficit went into the 20s and the Pakistani shoulders drooped. But the twist came in the very next over with Buttler missing a reverse sweep off Yasir and the ball hitting his pads. The fielding side went up in appeal and the umpire raised his finger.
Buttler took one of the three reviews England had left. The delay it took for the producers to load up the ball tracker after checking for an edge didn’t help the collective tension at Old Trafford and once it did come up, it upheld the umpire’s call and Buttler had to walk on 75 off 101 balls.
Broad, who came next, lifted some of the pressure that the hosts may have been under with a four off the second ball he faced against Shadab Khan.
Pakistan took the new ball as soon as it was available and it was Shaheen Afridi who took it first up. He came closest when Woakes inside-edged an outswinger onto his pads but that was followed by a no-ball, two runs and then a boundary by Woakes straight down the ground.
In the next over, Yasir’s full delivery hit Broad on the toes plumb in front of the stumps. Dom Bess replaced him and saw out the rest of the over.
Afridi continued down the other end and bowled a ripper of a delivery, searing in at full length and swinging late. Woakes pushed across the line and the ball took his inside edge but it only ended up going between the Pakistani slip cordon for four. Woakes stood unbeaten on 84 as England registered a scintillating win.
Brief Scores: Pakistan: 326 and 169 vs England: 219 & 277/7 (Chris Woakes 84*, Jos Buttler 75; Yasir Shah 4/99)
With IANS inputs