No interest in draw for captain Stokes as England deliver thrilling finale against Pakistan

By Sports Desk December 05, 2022

Ben Stokes reiterated his England side have little interest in drawing games after a dramatic denouement saw them claim a 74-run victory over Pakistan in the pair's first Test.

In the tourists' first red-ball visit to the country since 2005, an aggressive performance with bat and ball paid off as Jack Leach beat the dying light on the final day to dismiss Naseem Shah.

Stokes and coach Brendon McCullum's tactical approach on a flat surface yielded a Test match with the third-highest aggregate number of runs in history, and an early declaration that set up a thrilling final day.

James Anderson and Ollie Robinson struck in a rip-roaring passage after tea to check the ultimate momentum of any Pakistan chase, and Stokes acknowledged vindication for his game-plan in the aftermath.

"We've no interest in drawing," he stated. "On pitches like this, you have to make things happen, [you have to] make some bold decisions. We had to entice the batters to play a shot at times.

"I think it's maybe up there with England's greatest away wins. The toil everyone has put in is hitting. We've done something very special this week.

England had not won in red-ball cricket in Pakistan since a famed win in Karachi in 2000, and there were similarities to its sundown finale as England raced to snag their final wickets before the light was gone in Rawalpindi.

It is a feat made all the more impressive by how the tourists pulled together after a virus outbreak in the build-up left questions over whether the Test would actually proceed as intended.

"There's a few things you can plan for, which is the way we want to approach Test cricket," Stokes added. "But what you can't plan for is what happened to the squad a few days before. That seems a long time ago.

"I want to give our group of players a lot of credit for coming here and turning up, a little bit under the weather. Will Jacks got the nod to make his debut about three minutes before team-time,

"You can go through this whole Test match and pick out key individuals. I think with what we've had to deal with coming into this Test match makes this win feel a little bit better."

Opposite number Babar Azam was left to rue missed opportunities for his side, Pakistan having entered the final session needing only 86 to win with five wickets in hand after tea.

"We were not up to the mark," he added, "We had a golden chance to win this Test, but session by session we lost wickets. All credit to our bowlers, it was difficult.

"We had our opportunity but we couldn't get partnerships in the end. We have a lot of positives, so we will try to continue that in the next match."

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