Brilliant Woakes at Leeds…..
England returned from the dead and bounced back emphatically at Headingley to give Pakistan a taste of their own medicine. They were outplayed in all the three departments in the Lord’s Test and needed to come out all guns blazing in the final game of the two-match series, which they did quite perfectly on Day 1. After a disheartening defeat, they had all their hopes pinned to the final game and one wouldn’t be wrong in saying that they are in command of the game now and the momentum is well with them. They were outdone for a paltry total of 184 in the first innings at Lord’s, to which they replied emphatically by getting the better of Pakistan for 174 at Headingley.
The team stepped up collectively when the chips were down, and the onus of making a comeback was on them. It is often said, the pressure gets the best out of some, it couldn’t have got more tensed for the languishing English side and they have managed to click just at the right moment. England were short of confidence and needed a push, their bowlers stepped up and this outing will undoubtedly infuse a lot of momentum in them. They were well on course of recording their third consecutive series defeat, but by looking at the scenario now, they are in good position to square the series.
English seamers scalped three wickets apiece and exploited the conditions to the fullest to dismantle Pakistan early. The troika of James Anderson, Stuart Broad and Chris Woakes worked wonders for them and will test Pakistan’s batting in the second innings as well. Woakes made a healthy comeback and once again proved his worth in this English line-up; he got rid of two key Pakistani batsmen and then did well to have the wicket of Hasan Ali to his name.
Ben Stokes’ injury paved way for Woakes into the line-up; all-rounder Sam Curran was drafted into the playing XI and in order to strengthen their batting a little bit, Woakes was preferred over Mark Wood. Woakes is handy with the bat and has scored crucial runs in the past. England’s batting struggled big time in the first Test, and they couldn’t have afforded to fiddle with it anymore.
Woakes was overlooked for the first game, but when there was an opportunity to be grabbed here and he ensured it was snatched. At first, Woakes got the better of Haris Sohail, who looked tentative initially but was starting to find some rhythm. He generated some uncertainty in the batsman’s mind and then bowled a good one to induce a healthy edge, which was cupped by Dawid Malan at second slip. At 49 for 3, Pakistan were in hot water and Woakes picked his maiden First-Class wicket of 2018.
Moments later, Woakes steamed in and got rid of Asad Shafiq and steered Pakistan in all sorts of trouble. Shafid is a big fish, he has a knack of scoring big runs, but Woakes ensured he had him cheaply. The Pakistani spine was broken and Woakes made some deep inroads. Pakistan’s tail was garnering some crucial runs and Hasan Ali was playing a much-needed cameo.
A crucial 43-run partnership had developed between Shadab Khan and Hasan Ali, the latter was batting on 24 off 15 balls. England needed to clean them up early and Woakes provided the breakthrough. Ali was caught and bowled by the lanky right-arm pacer as Pakistan crumbled to 156 for 9. The damage was done by Woakes and did extremely well to support the two frontline bowlers.
In a bowling attack, not all the bowlers could be wicket-taking ones, but it is always an added advantage if one can do that along with maintaining the pressure. Woakes has the knack of producing wicket-taking deliveries and that is what he did at Headingley. He is quick and at times, deceptive. Woakes has a healthy record against Pakistan and has lived to the expectations in the first innings so far. It will be interesting to see how he fares in the second innings.
Not to forget, he will have a crucial role to play with the bat as well if England are eyeing to take a big first innings lead. He is yet to cement his place in the Test side, but his numbers are constantly getting better. This game is an ideal platform for him to make his presence unavoidable for the future and so far, he has had a good impression.