Dominic Taylor | Content Writer
After a disastrous first innings deficit, England beat incredible odds to win the first test of a series since 2018.
Having won the toss, Pakistan captain Azhar Ali chose to bat first in overcast conditions. His batsmen did not let him down, managing to get a respectable 326 runs in their first innings. Shan Masood showed a patient display with his 156 runs off 319, while there was also a half century for vice-captain Babar Azam (69 off 106). Outside of the two highest scorers, however, only two batsmen managed double-figure scorers with Abid Ali and Shadab Khan scoring 16 and 45 respectively.
Despite restricting them to below 350, England would have been disappointed with their fielding. Jos Buttler, in particular, dropped Shan Masood twice en route to his big score, while other fielding errors plagued their first inning. Joe Root would nonetheless be happy to see all 5 of his full-time bowlers receive wickets, with Stuart Broad (54-3), Joffra Archer (59-3) and Chris Woakes (43-2) the pick of the bowlers.
England’s first batting innings was however nothing short of abysmal, with old bad habits returning for all to see. Openers Dom Sibley and Rory Burns, who got England’s first home 100-run opening partnership since Sir Alastair Cook and Alex Hales’ in 2016, both scored under 10, with scores of 8 and 4 respectively. Besides Jos Buttler and Ollie Pope, who scored 38 and 62, England’s batting line-up showed no backbone, crawling to 219 all out and a first innings deficit of 107.
In the second innings, England’s bowling attack showed how dangerous they could be. Stuart Broad showed all his experience by returning 37-3, while the underrated Chris Woakes continued his fine form with figures of 11-2. Ben Stokes also returned to the bowling attack for the first time in a few tests with 11-2. Having ripped through the entire top-order not allowing a single batsman to score over 30 runs, it was veteran leg-spinner Yasir Shah would top scored for Pakistan with an entertaining 33. He was let down, however, by the absence of a substantial partner, with the rest of the tail-end finishing with single-digit figures. A total of 169 left England a total of 277 to win the test.
England got off to an uninspiring start, with opener Burns out for 10. Sibley and Root did show some determination but failed to build on good starts after being bowled out for 36 and 42 respectively. Stokes and Ollie Pope both received brutally fantastic deliveries to be sent back with a tally of under 10 runs. It was at this point, with England at 117-5, the game was turned.
Jos Buttler and Chris Woakes entered the crease knowing they were the last realistic players who could win England the game. With the ball beginning to turn and reverse swing, something the Pakistan bowlers would dream of, they knew that playing offensively was the only way they could try and claim victory. Buttler started the assault, indiscriminately sweeping and reverse sweeping any delivery in his path. Woakes too picked up the pace and before long the pair had accumulated a 139-run partnership. After Buttler fell for 75, Woakes completed the victory, ended the game with 84 runs to see England finish 277-7.
Despite victory there will be a number of clear issues for England to contend with ahead of the Second test. Firstly, talismanic all-rounder Ben Stokes and reserve batsmen Dan Lawrence will both be unavailable for selection due to family reasons. Secondly, with only three batsmen scoring half-centuries across the First Test, Silverwood and Root will be reassessing their batting options. Next, Buttler, despite impressive batting performances in the past few tests, has struggled continuously behind the stumps. Due to Stokes’ absence, there will be at least one change, but whether more are brought in for tactical reasons will become more apparent in the coming days ahead of the Second Test in Southampton on 13th August.