Ben Stokes has hailed the 74-run victory over Pakistan in Rawalpindi as one of the “greatest” in English Test history.
On a flat pitch, England bowled the hosts out on the final day after Jack Leach took the last wicket near the end of play.
It was only England’s third Test win in Pakistan, and Stokes praised his side, who were hit with illness on the eve of the first day.
“We wanted to come here and carry on with our mantra. I have got no interest in playing for the draws, and we try to look at the positive option.
“You have to make things happen on a wicket like this and make some bold decisions. James Anderson and Ollie Robinson were fantastic today.
“At the lunch break, it was exactly where we wanted to be and found ourselves in the perfect position. I think it’s up there with one of England’s greatest away Test match wins.”
‘High class’ Anderson and Robinson lead England to victory
Stokes vowed to continue playing exciting cricket, and an early declaration at tea on day four set the match up for an exciting finale.
With Pakistan needing 343 runs to win, England had dangled the carrot enough for both sides to be in contention to win.
With England taking six wickets before the final session, the game looked finely poised and Pakistan might have thought they were in with a chance to win the match.
But after Stokes gave his side one last pep talk at the tea break, early wickets from Ollie Robinson and James Anderson after break swung the pendulum their way and Pakistan’s tail-enders didn’t do enough to hold on for a draw.
“There was no second guessing us on that (the declaration), we want people watching Test match cricket. You just have to think of ways to keep going and get people watching.
“Reverse swing is a lot harder to play than conventional swing, and it was an unplanned tactic. As soon as it got reversing it was a big occasion for me, Jimmy and Robbo. The spells Jimmy and Robbo bowled were high-class. Jimmy running in at the tender age of 40+ is amazing to see.”
Brook is a ‘blessing’ for England
On day one, England had four centurions as they put on a mammoth, record-breaking first innings score of 657.
Among those who reached 100 runs was Harry Brook, who scored 153 in the first innings and 87 from 65 balls in the second to help England elevate themselves into a winning position.
Stokes described Brooks as “incredible” and was pleased with the way his team adapted after the illness that swept through the squad in the days before the Test.
“I don’t think too many players in their second match have shown the ability that Harry has showed there,” said Stokes.
“He is one for the future. He has everything across all formats. To have him come in at number five was a blessing for us and English cricket. The freedom and the way he expressed his talent was incredible.
“With the illness that ran through the camp and the one change we had to make through Foakes being ill, Will Jacks having to come in to make his debut and getting a six-fer and Pope batting at three and donning the gloves for a long time.
“Everyone has been incredible this week, everyone plays for each other and no one leaves anything on the field. That’s the kind of attitude and mentality that we need out here.
“There are a few things that we can plan for, but some of the things you can’t, which is obviously what happened to the squad before the Test match. I have got to give the players a lot of credit for turning up under the weather.
“Some key individual performances, like Jacks and Pope. I think what we had to deal with coming into this match makes it even better.
“We have got some broken bodies after that. It’s amazing to see the amount of enthusiasm and heart the lads showed.”
The second Test takes place in Multan from Friday (build-up starts at 4.30am on Sky Sports Cricket and Sky Sports Main Event ahead of the first ball at 5am) with Pakistan looking to level up the series ahead of the final fixture in Karachi from December 17, which is also live on Sky Sports.
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