Pakistan skipper Azhar Ali on Saturday opined that England's Manchester chase orchestrated by Chris Woakes and Jos Buttler on day 4 of the opening Test of the three-match series is not far behind Ben Stokes's heroic Headingley knock last Ashes. Azhar praised Woakes, Buttler and their 139-run stand that guided hosts to a three-wicket win and a subsequent 1-0 lead in the contest.
Azhar felt that Pakistan failed to find a plan to stop the match-winning sixth-wicket stand. Pakistan did not manage a single maiden during their partnership that lasted 33 overs as England bounced back from 117 from 5 to 256 for six until Buttler's dismissal when the hosts stood only 21 runs short of the target.
"Disappointing to be at the wrong end of it. Credit to Buttler, for taking the game on when we were comfortable and suddenly the pitch did nothing. They changed the momentum of the game and we had no reply. I give credit to the partnership between Woakes and Buttler, and it's tough to keep the boundaries dry. You have to give credit to the opposition. This one is not far behind Ben Stokes innings against Australia because it was a tough situation. If this was played in a packed house, it would have been more enjoyable, but at least people watching these games on TV would be entertained," said Azhar after the match.
The skipper also opined that the lack of reverse swing on offer derailed Pakistan's plans although they did manage wickets early on in the innings.
"It surprised me that there was no reverse-swing despite the ball being in good shape. We were patient and believed that we would get some reverse swing. We were rewarded with wickets for our discipline, but that partnership changed it all. We had the opportunity to bat England out of the game in the 2nd innings, but I think that's where we lost the game. Especially run-outs in Tests are unforgivable - a crime. This total was enough but we just weren't good enough this time," he said.
The second Test will begin on August 13 at the Ageas Bowl Stadium in Southampton.