Skipper Stokes hails Rawalpindi victory as one of England's greatest away wins

Rawalpindi, Dec 6 (IANS) England Test skipper Ben Stokes has asserted they are not here in the sub-continent to play dull and drab cricket, adding that the early declaration call taken on the fourth day of the first Test against Pakistan was to carry on with the theme of playing “exciting cricket”.

England defeated Babar Azam’s side by 74 runs on Day 5 of the Test to take a 1-0 lead in the three-match series, with the sporting declaration on Day 4 playing a huge role in the team’s victory on the historic tour’s opeing match.

Stokes said the team had “no interest in trying to play for a draw”. ‘Bazball’ had taken Test cricket by storm in the home series in England, but the real test for this approach was on the flatter and baked wickets in the sub-continent and England came out with flying colours.

“We wanted to come here to Pakistan and carry on with our mantra of exciting cricket,” Stokes said after the win,” according to ICC. “I’ve got no interest in trying to play for a draw; the dressing room has no interest in playing for a draw. Felt on this kind of wicket, almost had to entice the batsmen to play an attacking shot.”

England’s ultra-attacking approach on Day 1 and the bold declaration on Day 4 were pivotal factors in the victory and Stokes highlighted how they took advantage of the batting surface to build a good total in quick time.

“We’ve played 8-9 matches with myself and (coach) Brendon (McCullum) in charge. One thing we try to do is focus on ourselves and not the opposition. We know we’re a very exciting team. Was a great batting surface, so it was an opportunity for our batting group. Having the lads truck in like they did today was amazing. Really special group of players.”

Stokes hailed the win as one of England’s greatest victories in Test cricket away from home.

“We were fortunate to get the ball reverse-swinging. James Anderson and Ollie Robinson were fantastic today. We won probably about 8 minutes before we would’ve come off. This is probably up there as one of England’s greatest away wins.”

Babar Azam stated that Pakistan were simply “not up to the mark”, according to ICC.

“We were not up to the mark. Had a golden chance in the second innings, but session by session we lost wickets. Our bowling group is young. Unfortunately Haris injured himself in the first innings. All credit to the bowlers who bowled well and tried without Haris. We tried to stick to our plans.

“Difficult when opponent goes at seven an over. We had an opportunity in the second innings. But we didn’t get partnerships in the end. Lots of positives. Our batting performed very well,” he added.



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