Pakistan Captain Azhar Ali: ‘We Had Our Opportunities To Bat England Out Of Manchester Test’
Azhar Ali's loss of personal form over the past couple of years with the bat is an area of concern. The Pakistan captain has managed just 139 runs in his past 12 away Test innings. (AFP)

Pakistan captain Azhar Ali rued the missed opportunities and lauded the Jos Buttler-Chris Woakes partnership that helped England snatch the first Test at Old Trafford, Manchester.

He said Pakistan failed to match up to the challenge thrown at them by England on the fourth day at Old Trafford, leading to their three-wicket defeat.

“It’s been a wonderful Test, disappointing to be on the wrong side of it. We had our opportunities to bat England out of the game, We lost run-outs which are a crime in Test matches, but this total should have been enough,” Ali said.

“They took the game on and the pitch started to do nothing. They changed the momentum and we couldn’t reply what they threw at us.”

Buttler (75) and Woakes (84 not out) stitched a brilliant 139-run stand for the sixth wicket to help England chase down 277 and win the first Test by three wickets on Saturday (August 8).

“I would give credit to their partnership, tough to keep the field up and the boundaries dry. One of the best innings of recent past was Stokes v Australia and this one is not far behind because conditions were tough,” said the 35-year-old captain.

“Surprised there wasn’t reverse swing, but there was enough there, when we had five wickets we were happy with our discipline, but the partnership changed everything.”

Ali said playing in front of a packed house would have been more enjoyable for both the sides, which was not possible in view of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

“But watching at home on TV, they (fans) will have been entertained, and we’re happy to be a part of it.”

England captain Joe Root said he knew a special innings or a partnership would be needed to chase down the target of 277.

“Couldn’t be more proud of the lads, approach was outstanding and that partnership was magnificent. We knew it would take something special but after last summer we knew not to stop believing. It’s a real strong trait of ours,” Root said.

“Jos, it shows the mental strength, to play that situation and manage different passages of it, calculating risks, manipulating the spinner, brilliant innings, and Chris was magnificent too.”

Man-of-the-match Chris Woakes said the condition of the pitch left him and Buttler with no choice but to play a counter-attacking game.

“After that ball that Ollie (Pope) got, we knew that was the way to go on this pitch. It made up our minds for us, and worked into our hands, take it to them and put them under pressure,” Woakes said.

“I was second fiddle to Jos (Buttler), I’d have loved him to be there to the end. One of the best white-ball players in the world and one of the best run-chasers. He showed why.”

Talking about the four wickets he also took in the match, Woakes said, “It’s pleasing to pick up the big scalps. I feel really good with the ball, not much cricket coming into the series, but found good rhythm and I hope that can continue.”