The English skipper hails the “special” victory in Pakistan 2022

The English skipper hails the “special” victory in Pakistan 2022

(AFP extension)

Skipper Ben Stokes hailed England’s nail-biting victory in the first test against Pakistan on Monday as “one of the best” of his career, particularly given the state of the lifeless Rawalpindi pitch.

With minutes to spare in the dying light after five days of thrilling cricket, England finally stopped a heroic last stand by Pakistani tailenders to win the first Test by 74 runs.

It was only the third time England had won a Test in Pakistan, although they hadn’t visited since 2005 due to security concerns.

Stokes statement

“To be able to get a result on this type of wicket is mind-blowing,” Stokes said ahead of the second Test which gets underway in Multan on Friday.

“I think it’s probably one of the best. The effort that everyone has managed to put in throughout this week is just incredible.”

England have ‘Bazball’ to thank for their win, the brand of freewheeling cricket coined by new manager Brendon ‘Baz’ McCullum’s nickname, a New Zealander.

McCullum was an aggressive batsman in his playing days – he holds the record for the fastest individual Test century – and under him, and skipper Stokes, the English took one-day cricket to the five-day match.

Records collapsed in Rawalpindi with England becoming the only team in history to score 500 runs on the first day of a Test – thanks to four individual centuries, another record.

Overall, around 1,768 runs were scored during the match, the third highest total since the inception of Test cricket.

However, Pakistan did well to bring England’s daunting first innings total of 657 runs back to just 78 runs.

England lit the fireworks again in their second innings before a bold declaration from Stokes left Pakistan looking for 343 runs for victory.

For a while it looked like the home team would make it, but a devastating last session saw England shine as the lights dimmed for a famous victory.

“We’re quite speechless,” said Stokes, who now has seven wins from the last eight tests.

“I feel very honored and feel in a privileged position to be able to lead these guys.

“Jimmy Anderson was saying he was feeling a little emotional, so to have a guy with quite 180 Test matches (176) feeling that way by the end of this is proof that we’ve accomplished something very special.”

Stokes suggested that “Bazball” was here to stay.

“Test cricket is generally exciting when England are playing,” he said. “That’s what we’ve set out to do from day one.”

And he praised the fighting spirit of his players as they faced a mysterious virus that threatened the start of the first Test.

“The way the guys dealt with it and just kept going was a credit to them as individuals and as a team,” he said.

Stokes also praised their home crowd – happy to see England finally visit, but disappointed not to win.

“I’m not going to lie, the welcome we got coming off the pitch as winners in Pakistan was very special,” he said.

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