Wow, what a test match.
For the first 3 days England were behind Pakistan. England were dead and buried at 117-5 chasing 277 and yet a magnificent pair of innings from Jos Buttler and Chris Woakes has pulled England to victory when defeat seemed a certainty.
Pakistans dominant first innings, led by a superb 156 from Shan Masood and partly down to some truly bad wicketkeeping from Buttler followed by a most English of batting collapses, in the face of a truly superb bowling attack, meant the first innings deficit of 107 and seemed certain to be unsurmountable for England.
Englands pacemen to their credit bowled excellently in the second innings bowling Pakistan out for 169 after some fireworks from Yasir Shah with the bat on the 4th morning.
277 to win and England were in trouble early on, Rory Burns pinned in front for the second time of the match for 10. Root and Sibley initially wrestled some control back putting on 64 together, before another cluster of wickets fell, first Sibley nicking a booming drive to slip of Yasir, Root edging behind to Naseem Shah and Stokes gloving a googly off Yasir again. With Pope receiving an absolute jaffa from Shaheen, a ball that was on a good length rearing and taking the gloves to slip, all looked lost. 117-5, 160 runs behind.
Enter Chris Woakes to join Buttler. Woakes of late has been a shadow of his self with the bat, averaging less than 10 for 2 years since his maiden century. Buttler on the other hand was under serious pressure, his good keeping had been keeping him in the squad as his batting returns were poor for a long time; however his disastrous display with the gloves; two drops and a missed stumping meant this could well be his last test match innings.
They put on 139 together, initially scoring at more than a run a ball, Woakes powerfully driving, Buttler sweeping and reverse sweeping. Down the required runs came, both had luck, a glove off Woakes falling short, a miss pull from Buttler evading the fielder and Woakes surviving a review for lbw by Pakistan.
Both crossed 50, before the runs stopped to flow as easy, but both men kept finding the singles. There were no maiden overs in the entire partnership, a considerable effort.
More twists and turns ahead, 21 to win and Buttler fell to Yasir lbw for 75 playing one reverse too many. Stuart Broad promoted from 10, his ability to score quickly and his experience earning him a role to try and win it quickly, it looked to have paid off with a booming sweep shot crashing to the square leg boundary.
The new ball came, Woakes playing a sublime straight drive to earn 4 more runs. But with 4 to win, Yasir managed to trap Broad in front. Bess survived, allowing for Woakes to edge through gully for 4 to win the match. Woakes undefeated 84 not out
An exhilarating and absorbing 4 days of cricket. Credit to both teams. England have managed to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat, removing the first test bogeyman that has stalked England cricket for a long time.
Questions still remain though; Who should the bowling attack at the AGEAS Rose Bowl be? Is Dom Bess good enough to remain Englands spinner? Does Buttler keep the gloves?
For Pakistan, questions of the batsmen in their second innings must be asked, their captaincy and bowling plans also.
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