England complete stunning run chase to beat Pakistan by three wickets in first Test classic

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Chris Woakes and Jos Buttler ripped a sensational victory out of the hands of Pakistan with the greatest comeback partnership since… well… Headingley last summer!

The two all rounders let their batting brilliance shine as England hunted down a target of 277 to win by three wickets and back up Woakes’ Friday night belief that they could follow in the footsteps of last year’s miracle chase.

In many ways this was a better effort than that remarkable day when one man carried his team over the line, because this one wasn’t so freakish, it was a strong team finish under pressure.

Woakes and Buttler came together at 117-5 with 160 still needed on a pitch that was helping the bowlers far more than the batsmen, and by the time Buttler departed for 75 there was just 21 more required.

They soaked up the pressure, turned down the volume on the Pakistani players and with Woakes 84 not out at the end England grabbed a 1-0 lead despite coughing up a 107-run first innings deficit.

Last summer it was Ben Stokes in front of a full house at Headingley, this year it was Woakes in front of a sea of empty chairs across the Pennines at Old Trafford.

The two all rounders are as different as the situations they found themselves in but their ability to bring about the same result in their own way illustrates just how good they both are.

Woakes is a bowler first and a batsman second, but he delivered with both strings to first inch the game towards England with the ball on day three, and then totally snatch it away from Pakistan with the bat on day four.

And with keeper-batsman Buttler alongside him, their 139-run stand in the face of a mercurial bowling attack deserves every plaudit that comes their way.

Walking out to the middle at 106-4, there is no doubt that Buttler would have been feeling the pressure, not only of the situation, but also wanting to make amends for his earlier slip ups in the field, while also finding out his father was ill in hospital late the night before.

Whereas Pakistan stumper Mohammed Rizwan had been outstanding throughout, talking a sublime catch at the second attempt to remove Ben Stokes and bring Buttler to the middle, the England gloveman had cost his side dear.

He had dropped a catch and missed a clear cut stumping off Shan Masood in the first innings that cost 111 runs and kept him under a bit of a cloud.

But there has never been anything but total support for him and his ability to do something special from within the England dressing room and this is their pay-off.

For every question, for every meme, for every piece of negativity, this is a moment for Buttler and England to savour, not to put others down, but to lift their man up in recognition of such an exceptional performance when his team needed it the most.

Pakistan had done plenty of hard work to put themselves into the box seat midway through the day, but just when it looked like they might rush to a win they took their foot off the gas by bowling full rather than short and fast.

Woakes’ confidence grew as Pakistan’s faltered, and that is why he was still there to hit the winning runs.

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