Jos Buttler, who was one of the two main architects of England’s successful run-chase of 277 against Pakistan in the first Test at Old Trafford, admitted to have feared that he was playing his last Test match after his howlers behind the stumps cost England a fair few chances.
Buttler spilled two catches and a stumping in Pakistan’s first innings, and felt that he owed his side a few vital runs.
“Thoughts go through your head that if you don’t score any runs it could be your last Test,” Buttler said. “Those kind of things are in your head but you have to try to shut them out and play the situation. I’m pleased that I am able to do that. I feel like I owed the team. I was very aware that the chances I missed at wicketkeeper were the reason we were chasing as many as we were.”
“You think ‘perhaps I’ve cost the team the game’. There’s been some lonely nights thinking about it. It’s a feeling of relief more than enjoyment at the minute. As the wicketkeeper in this team you have to take chances and you have to keep better than I did in the first innings, I know that, I don’t need other people to tell me.”
“I expect a lot of myself and to play international cricket there’s a level required. I have to be better, that’s a stone-cold fact. There’s no point trying to hide that. If I take those chances we might have won two hours earlier,” he added.
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Meanwhile, Pakistan’s captain Azhar Ali felt that his team were unable to finish the game off when they had England on the ropes with 5 of their batsmen back in the hut.
He said, “I wouldn’t say we lost the match in [our] second innings, but we missed a chance to knock England out of the game there. That is a missed opportunity. But only once has such a huge total ever been chased at Old Trafford.”
“We were on top and with the tail coming in, we were sure we’d wrap it up if one more wicket fell. But they attacked from the off and snatched the game away from us. We do regret losing an opportunity to build partnerships in that second innings, which meant we couldn’t set them a chase of 300-plus, and that was a factor in us losing.”
“I’ve been playing Test cricket for a long time and I know that Test cricket is hard. It’s never over until it’s over. This has been shown again today. The good thing is everyone stuck to their task and unfortunately we were outdone by a brilliant partnership.”
“Yes, in hindsight a lot of things can be done, but when they came and attacked the spinners, playing sweep shots and reverse sweeps. It all worked for him. Unfortunately, nothing worked for us and when you play innings like that, you have to be a little lucky and fortune favoured them. Sometimes you just have to give credit to the opposition.”
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Azhar Ali also spoke about his lean run of form with the bat. He said, “After playing international cricket for ten years, I understand when I need to take certain decisions. When I bat, I’m not thinking about the captaincy, whether or not I’m out of form. And when I’m captain, I don’t think about my batting at all, whether I scored a 100 or 0.”
“That’s the job of the captain. There’s a lot of disappointment that we had this game in the palm of our hands, and we led at most points in the game, but that can happen sometimes. We’ve had a great record in England, it’s a better record than any other Asian side has here.”
“We should have won this game too, so I don’t think we struggle in England as such, and I’m confident we can challenge in the remaining two games.”
He added, “We just have to credit Woakes and Buttler. They took the game on after the fifth wicket from the first ball. They started playing shots and this is one of the best partnerships in the recent past. We were in control of the game; we were one punch away from finishing the game off, but they came and dominated us during that period. At times we were kind of unlucky but for the most part, they were brilliant.”
“They knew it wouldn’t be possible to win if they kept batting the normal way. Maybe when the ball got a little softer, it wasn’t doing as much as it did when it was new, especially for the quicks. Buttler, when he’s against spin, can play 360 degrees so it’s hard to set an attacking field on him. He put pressure on us, it worked for him, and he outplayed us in that period.”