Fresh off of a victory against the West Indies last month, England got ready to face their next opponent, Pakistan, in their second series of the ‘new normal’ year at Old Trafford.
Hoping to clinch another win, England kept the same 14 men in their squad before announcing their 11-man team at the toss. The selected team remained the same as Zak Crawley, Sam Curran and Mark Wood were rested with Ben Stokes still unable to bowl due to injury. Pakistan won the toss and chose to bat first.
England seemingly got off to a good start on Day 1 taking quick wickets despite rain delay throughout. Abid Ali was dismissed on 16 runs in 15.1 overs (b Archer) and Azhar Ali was dismissed for a duck soon after with an lbw from Woakes; both were clearly out and well played by England.
However, England’s game-winning plans were hindered by two key partnerships from Pakistan, the first of which being between Shan Masood and Babar Azam. They added 96 runs before bad light stopped play leaving the score at the end of the day on 139-2. Despite the rain interrupting play, England were keen to stay active and showed off their football skills whilst waiting for play to start again.
Day 2 saw Babar Azam dismissed on 69 runs after a catch from Root off of an Anderson ball. This was a key wicket and led to England taking two more wickets, relatively fast. Next came the second key partnership between Masood, again, and Shadab Khan who added 105 runs before Root ended another partnership by catching the ball, this time off of a spin bowl from Bess.
England hadn’t lost hope yet though.
Archer came into to bowl and dismissed Yasir Shah with an lbw on just 5 runs before Mo Abbas entered the field and was dismissed for a golden duck, leaving Pakistan on 291-8. Five overs later, Broad finally dismissed Masood with an lbw on 156 runs before the final wicket fell, also to Broad, leaving Pakistan on a strong 326 all out.
Time for England to bat – but Burns was dismissed for just 4 runs with an lbw (b Afridi) making the opening partnership worth very little. Soon after, Sibley was dismissed on 8 runs (b Abbas) before Stokes was dismissed for a duck (b Abbas). A partnership between Root and Pope, a pair who may have been feeling some pressure to boost England’s score up, added 50 runs before the captain was dismissed on 14 runs leaving England on 62-4. Some brilliant batting work from Pope ensured England’s score was pushed up nicely, helped by a strong partnership with Buttler. At stumps on day 2 England were 92-4, trailing by 234.
Day 3 opened with England continuing to bat. A dive from Pope in the first over saw him score a quick single, something commentators note is a nice skill of his, before he reached 50. The Pope/Buttler partnership added a valuable 65 runs before Pope was dismissed on 62 runs. This proved key, and the wickets fell fast. Buttler and Woakes managed to add 32 runs before Yasir Shah dismissed the former and Bess, who went on 1 run. Shah then managed to dismiss Woakes on 19 before Shadab Khan dismissed Archer (c Rizwan) and Anderson with an lbw leaving England all out on just 219 with a big uphill climb in front of them.
Pakistan came into bat, keen to add to their lead. The two highest scorers from the first innings were out within 20 overs. Four overs later and Woakes took another wicket dismissing the captain with an lbw. A 38-run partnership between Asad Shafiq and Mo Rizwan pushed Pakistan up to 101-5. Another 19 runs were added before Mo Rizwan was dismissed with an lbw by Stokes, who was surprisingly brought in to bowl. At stumps Pakistan were leading by 244 and England needed two more wickets before they could bat leading to what promised to be a very exciting and tense end to the test.
Day 4 began with England hoping to get their final wickets fast. Yasir Shah was dismissed despite some good shots after an outside edge hit got him caught out by Buttler (b Broad) and a bowl from Archer dismissed Naseem Shah leaving Pakistan all out and leading by 276; a substantial – but not impossible-to-beat number. England were faced with a tough battle making day 4 one of the most thrilling days of cricket I have seen.
England came out and had a good start until Burns was dismissed on 10 runs with an lbw (b Abbas). Still, Root was ready to fight back and his partnership with Sibley added a commendable 64 runs before Sibley was caught on 36 runs. Shortly after, Root was dismissed on 42, leaving England on a discouraging 86-3. A brilliant 4 from Pope got him off the mark and there was hope for England. This was soon diminished after Stokes was dismissed on 0; his partnership with Pope only adding 10 to the score. A few overs later, Pope was dismissed on 7 thanks to an entirely unplayable shot leaving England on 117-5, trailing by 159. However, what can only be described as a valiant effort and truly remarkable partnership between Buttler and Woakes put England within touching distance of a win. Adding an incredible 136 runs to the total, the pair played strongly and powerfully, continuing throughout the afternoon session with England on 167-5 at tea. This was until Yasir Shah dismissed Buttler with an lbw, leaving England in need of 21 to win. Broad added 7 before Shah dismissed him for an lbw. A final, long-awaited, 4 from Woakes saw England win by 3 wickets – much to the amazement of fans and commentators alike.
Analysis: A thrilling final day which saw England just about scoop the win.
A remarkable final day of cricket that saw some brilliant play and an abundance of tense moments ultimately ending in England winning the first test. Whilst I wish I could say it was a deserved win, both sides played well but a bit of luck in addition to a great partnership at the last minute allowed England to take the victory. It was exciting and nerve-wracking, and a day of cricket fans wish they could’ve seen in person. The next test promises to be just as good a watch.
Result: England win by 3 runs.
England: 219 & 277-7dec.
Pakistan 326 & 169