By Michael Stafford-Jones
- Joe Root hits 254 and 71 not out as England declare on 589-8 and 173-1
- Chris Woakes, James Anderson and Mooen Ali excel as Pakistan are bowled out for 198 and 234
- Alastair Cook also scores 105 and unbeaten 76 as England win by 330 runs
OLD TRAFFORD, ENGLAND – Joe Root’s magnificent 254 sets up brilliant England win
Root hit 254 – the third-highest score in Old Trafford history – to launch England on their way to an emphatic 330-run victory over Pakistan in the Second Test.
The Yorkshireman’s brilliance, along with a fluent 105 from skipper Alastair Cook and 58 apiece from Chris Woakes and Johnny Bairstow, helped England post a huge first-innings total of 589-8 declared.
Woakes led the way with the ball, taking 4-67 as the hosts bowled the tourists out for 198. Misbah-ul-Haq provided some resistance by scoring 52.
Quickfire 70s from Cook and Root pushed Pakistan’s eventual target up to 565. They did not get anywhere near as Woakes, James Anderson and Moeen Ali each claimed three wickets to dismiss them for 234.
It was close to a complete performance from England, as amassing a huge first-innings score and then bowling well to dismiss the opposition twice is what most Test teams aim to do.
But there will be some concern that the under-pressure batsmen in their top-order, Alex Hales, James Vince and Gary Ballance, struggled again. Vince, in particular, will wonder how many more chances he is going to get to impress.
Consequently, as so many times before, it was left to two of the world’s best, Cook and Root, to score the bulk of the runs. And England’s captain and vice-caption responded to the pressure spectacularly, scoring 506 of the team’s 762 runs in the match.
Faced with the daunting task of responding to the host’s 589 after tea on day two, Pakistan faltered badly and lost four wickets (two to Woakes) before the close to end on 57-4.
When Anderson dismissed Shan Masood and Stuart Broad accounted for Asad Shafiq early on day three, the tourists already looked beaten at 76-6. But Misbah showed his fighting qualities with 52 and Sarfraz Ahmed and Wahab Riaz backed him up with counter-attacking contributions of 26 and 39 respectively to raise Pakistan’s total up to 198 all out.
It was still nowhere near enough, and most viewers probably expected Cook to enforce the follow-on and push for a comfortable innings win. Fans and pundits alike were not impressed when he decided to bat again instead, and some expressed their displeasure on social media.
At the post-match presentation, Cook told Sky Sports: “In terms of not enforcing the follow-on, I wanted to give our bowlers a bit of a rest. I didn’t think it would cause as much of a stir as it did!”
After Hales was dismissed by Mohammad Amir for 24, Cook and Root blazed their way to 76 and 71 not out respectively as the hosts racked up 173-1 declared in just 30 overs. That left them almost two full days to bowl Pakistan out and square the series.
Anderson got them off to a good start by removing Masood and Azhar Ali before lunch. Mohammad Hafeez and Younis Khan then stabilised the innings somewhat to guide Pakistan to 79-2 after 25 overs.
But it didn’t last, as Ali made the crucial breakthrough with a good off-break that clipped the inside-edge of Hafeez’s bat and looped into the hands of Ballance at short leg. Six overs later, Khan danced down the pitch and swiped the ball to Hales at long-on to give Ali another wicket.
Misbah and Shafiq delayed England’s now-inevitable victory with 35 and 39 respectively, but three wickets for Woakes, another each for Anderson and Ali and a bonus wicket for Root put the finishing touches on a fantastic win.
Root collected a richly-deserved man-of-the-match award, and Nasser Hussain said on Sky Sports: “It was a phenomenal innings – one of the greatest I have seen by an England batsman. There was a sense after Lord’s that Joe should carry on playing the same way, but he has realised that by putting some shots away, like the big drive and the slog-sweep, (he can improve).”
With Root, Cook and the bowlers on excellent form, England will now be very confident they can win the final two tests of the series at Edgbaston and The Oval.
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