Joe Root: England captain says unlikely wins give belief anything is possible
Captain Joe Root says England’s habit of pulling off unlikely victories gives them the belief they can win matches from almost any situation.
The home side chased 277 to win the first Test against Pakistan after being 117-5 on a very difficult pitch.
It follows remarkable wins in the World Cup final and the Headingley Ashes Test in the summer of 2019.
“Having those experiences in the bank gives you a huge amount of confidence that anything is possible,” said Root.
England were carried to their three-wicket win by Chris Woakes, who ended 84 not out and shared a sixth-wicket partnership with Jos Buttler, whose contribution was 75.
The situation the hosts found themselves in on Saturday was typical of a match where they were in trouble throughout.
They gave up a first-innings deficit of 107 runs after wicketkeeper Buttler twice reprieved Shan Masood, who went on to make 156. In addition, captain Root made a number of tactical errors and England’s top order slumped to 12-3.
“For three days we were behind Pakistan in this game,” said Root.
“Obviously we don’t want to start in that position and keep finding ourselves having to wrestle a way back into a match, but it’s certainly great to have in the bank when things don’t go your way initially.”
England’s fightback began on day three with some determined lower-order batting, followed by the bowlers tenaciously working through the Pakistan line-up in their second innings.
Still, even on day four, England were in huge trouble after losing three wickets for 20 runs on a pitch that had a period of devilish difficulty.
Root’s edge was taken by a Naseem Shah delivery that bounced, Ben Stokes gloved a fizzing googly from Yasir Shah before Ollie Pope got an unplayable lifter from Shaheen Afridi.
However, Buttler and Woakes counter-attacked and, even though Buttler fell with 21 still required, man-of-the-match Woakes steered England home.
“It’s a monumental win,” Root told Test Match Special. “We managed to get across the line and that will give everyone a huge amount of confidence.
“Our biggest strength as a group is our character and never giving up. We always look at how we can find a way to get back into the game and today we did it brilliantly.
“We were up against it, but we found a way and that’s a sign of a good team. We are very aware we’re not the finished article but if we keep doing things, backing them up and learning from mistakes then we will get there eventually.”