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Pakistan wicket

'We will not be happy to chase anything over 150' – Asad Shafiq

Eng v Pak, 1st Test, reaction

Jos Buttler happy to “show that I can play” at the Test level.

It was all Pakistan for the most part of the third day of the first Test against England at Lord’s on Saturday 26 May before Jos Buttler and Dominic Bess fought back with an unbroken seventh-wicket partnership of 125 runs.

At close of play, England were 235/6 in their second innings, just 56 in front and still well behind the eight-ball, and Asad Shafiq, the Pakistan batsman, was left hoping for another change in tide with the second new ball, due in just two more overs.

“Credit must be given to their batsmen for handling our bowling. They built a sensible partnership. They first saw off the ball and then attacked us. The ball was moving but Buttler and Dom Bess played very mature innings,” said Shafiq, who scored 59 when Pakistan batted, one of four half-centurions in the Pakistan first innings.

“We will try to hit the right areas when we come in the morning so we get a lower target. A new ball is also due in the morning. It won't be easy to play it on this wicket. Especially, the way (Mohammad) Amir and (Mohammad) Abbas are bowling, it will be very difficult for this pair to handle them.”

After taking a 179-run first-innings lead, Pakistan reduced England to 110/6 with Amir (2/35), Abbas (2/36) and Shadab Khan (2/63) getting among the wickets.

That might have made the Pakistanis dream of an innings win, but even though that’s not what happened, Shafiq said the visitors were not too worried about the chase.

“Everyone is very confident. Everybody is saying that we will chase the target, whatever it will be. The way our new boys batted against Ireland gave confidence to them and to the whole team. It made us realise how we have to go about our tasks if wickets fall early on,” said Shafiq.

Asad Shafiq put the onus on Mohammad Amir (in pic) and Mohammad Abbas to keep the target under 150
Asad Shafiq put the onus on Mohammad Amir (in pic) and Mohammad Abbas to keep the target under 150

He, however, added that Pakistan don’t want to chase too many runs in the fourth innings. “We will not be happy to chase anything over 150. We will try to get them out below 150 as we have to bat in the fourth innings.”

For Buttler, it was a key innings, as he is playing Test cricket for the first time since December 2016, and his first first-class game since September 2017. He was playing for Rajasthan Royals in the Indian Premier League 2018 when he was pulled out with a surprise recall, and is thrilled to have made the most of the opportunity.

“It felt great. You're trying to use all your experience from every tournament and everything you've learnt about situations. The game is about making good decisions ball after ball,” he said after ending the day on 66* to Bess’ 55*.

"Partnerships are crucial and we managed to put together a good one there" – Buttler

“I spoke before the game about not worrying about the colour of the ball and trying to keep a very good mindset, which I've had for the last three weeks. Looking to score, not necessarily boundaries, but just getting off strike.”

Buttler was in outstanding form in the IPL too, scoring five consecutive half-centuries on his way to 548 runs from 13 innings.

“Feeling in good form, playing in front of big crowds in India, it's got a very similar feel. It's a big occasion and trying to pull from those experiences,” said Buttler, adding that he was happy “to show that I can play” Test cricket.

The stand with Bess, playing on Test debut, was a key one for England, and Buttler pointed out, “Partnerships are crucial and we managed to put together a good one there. Tomorrow we need to make it as big as we can. As Joe (Root) said in the dressing room, it's a hard wicket to start on. If you can get through that initial phase, it gets easier and both Dom and I managed to do that.”

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