After coming up short in the first Test against England, Pakistan skipper Azhar Ali credited Chris Woakes and Jos Buttler for stitching a match-winning partnership and giving England an improbable win.
His remark came as England chased down 277 on the fourth day of the first Test to go 1-0 ahead in the three-match series.
The hosts were 117/5 at one stage, but it was then that Jos Buttler and Chris Woakes put up a 139-run stand to revive England’s hopes. In the end, England won the match by three wickets as Woakes played an unbeaten knock of 84 runs.
Buttler was dismissed after playing a knock of 75 runs, but by the time he was sent back to the pavilion, England’s win was looking very likely.
“We just have to credit Woakes and Buttler. They took the game on after the fifth wicket from the first ball. They started playing shots and this is one of the best partnerships in the recent past. We were in control of the game; we were one punch away from finishing the game off, but they came and dominated us during that period. At times we were kind of unlucky but for the most part, they were brilliant,” ESPNCricinfo quoted Ali as saying.
“They knew it wouldn’t be possible to win if they kept batting the normal way. Maybe when the ball got a little softer, it wasn’t doing as much as it did when it was new, especially for the quicks. Buttler, when he’s against spin, can play 360 degrees so it’s hard to set an attacking field on him. He put pressure on us, it worked for him, and he outplayed us in that period,” he added.
In the first innings, Pakistan had managed to gain a 107-run lead, but the side was bowled out cheaply in the second innings for just 169 runs. Ali said that he does not feel that the side lost the match due to poor batting in the second innings.
“I wouldn’t say we lost the match in our second innings, but we missed a chance to knock England out of the game there. That is a missed opportunity. But only once has such a huge total ever been chased at Old Trafford. We were on top and with the tail coming in, we were sure we’d wrap it up if one more wicket fell. But they attacked from the off and snatched the game away from us,” Ali said.
“I’ve been playing Test cricket for a long time and I know that Test cricket is hard. It’s never over until it’s over. This has been shown again today. The good thing is everyone stuck to their task and unfortunately, we were outdone by a brilliant partnership. Yes, in hindsight a lot of things can be done, but when they came and attacked the spinners, playing sweep shots and reverse sweeps. It all worked for him. Unfortunately, nothing worked for us and when you play innings like that, you have to be a little lucky and fortune favoured them. Sometimes you just have to give credit to the opposition,” he added.