In a fantastic advertisement for the longest format of the game, hosts England completed a thrilling three-wicket win over Pakistan at Old Trafford. After dominating the first two days, the visitors seemed set to claim only a rare test win at the venue, but a third innings collapse and a fine partnership against the odds from Jos Buttler and Chris Woakes saw Chris Silverwood’s men claim an unlikely victory.
Here are our talking points from the game.
Pakistan’s first defeat in 20 years while defending 250+: Pakistan have never lost in the last two decades while defending a 250+ total in the last innings of a test match. They had England on the ropes at 117/5, but incredibly, still ended up losing the game. Winviz had Pakistan as high as 84% at one stage of the game, and this will be a tough defeat to stomach. Perhaps not as much as the likes of Sydney, Hobart and Galle, but it will definitely hurt. Not to mention the fact they had also the luxury of a 100+ lead in the first innings.
No bouncers to Chris Woakes: Neither Buttler nor Woakes had been in great form coming into this game, and the latter had even been hit on the helmet by a nasty Naseem Shah bouncer in the first innings.
Bizarrely though, Pakistan didn’t employ the short ball strategy when Woakes first arrived in the middle during the chase and was potentially vulnerable to it. For a brief while later, Naseem tried it after Woakes had already had time to get acclimatised, and even succeeded in getting an edge that just evaded Yasir Shah. Woakes seemed a little wary of Naseem, showing a more open stance to the latter in comparison to the one he employed against the rest.
Some of Pakistan’s tactics in the fourth innings were questionable- this was a game they should’ve won nine times out of ten.
A rare win in the opening test for England: England have been slow starters in recent times, having lost the first test of their last five series. Add to this Pakistan’s formidable first innings lead, and everyone thought it was the visitors’ game to lose. However some fine batting from Chris Woakes and Jos Buttler saw them snatch victory from the jaws of defeat, and England fans would’ve been even happier given they did it without much of a contribution from Ben Stokes and Joe Root- their two biggest players.
Masood’s century goes in vain: Shan Masood’s century was perhaps one of the finest by an overseas opener in English conditions in recent history. It deserved, and should’ve got a win for his team, but it wasn’t to be, and this game will now be remembered for Buttler and Woakes’ stunning rearguard action in the fourth innings.
Off to Southampton: Pakistan have never played a test at the Rose Bowl, and England’s last one there, against the West Indies, ended in defeat. How will Misbah’s men fare in their maiden test on the South Coast?