England v Pakistan: Broad Rewards, Pakistan Bottle it, Woakes Shines

Stuart Broad

The first Test match in the England vs Pakistan Series is over.

Stuart Broad took three wickets in the First Innings to see us paid out at 3.6 for England First Innings Top Bowler honours, but that doesn’t even begin to tell the story of what was an absolutely fascinating Test match, a reminder of what a wonderful format this is and also a case of thinking about what a shame it is that there were no fans at Old Trafford to witness it. 

In the end, England chased 277 late on Day Four to go 1-0 up in the Series and its proof that though this may not be quite a vintage England side, they’re still extremely hard to beat at home and have developed a knack for winning from virtually impossible positions, as we saw last summer in beating New Zealand in the World Cup final and Australia at Headingly in the Ashes.

Good for England, bad for Pakistan and us…because we backed them at 6.0 in our other bet for the game and both Azhar Ali’s side and us, should really have won.

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How did England win?

Pakistan put on a strong first-innings total (326), England didn’t (219) and when over 100 runs ahead going into the third innings, Pakistan should really have posted a more imposing total for England to chase.

At the start of the innings, Pakistan were strong, strong, favourites to win the game but the fact that no Pakistan batsman got to 50 and that number eight batsman Yasir Shah (a specialist spinner) top-scored with 33, tells its own story.  

Still, having had England at 177-5 including getting dangermen Joe Root and Ben Stokes out, Pakistan really, really should have won the game.

It was left to the out-of-form Jos Buttler (75) and an even more unlikely figure in Chris Woakes (84 not out and voted man-of-the-match) to get England very close before Buttler got out.

Broad contributed seven with the bat and Woakes carried on in his merry way to get over the line.

Man-of-the-match Chris Woakes

By the end Pakistan were deflated, tired and annoyed that the pitch hadn’t deteriorated as much as they would have thought but, in many ways, they only have themselves to blame.

What did Pakistan do wrong?

Perhaps they didn’t have a fixed game plan when batting the second time.

There was still plenty of time left in the game so they could have been more disciplined and patient rather than losing wickets at regular intervals and then relying on a late cameo from Shah to get them to a good total; if it hadn’t been for that, they would have made it somewhat simple for England.

But at times they didn’t bowl well on that fourth day and there were occasions when skipper Ali made some poor choices, both in terms of bowling changes and field placements.

Why did Shadab Khan, a perfectly able spinner, only bowl eight overs when Shah bowled 30?

Even the seamers like Afridi and Abbas bowled 16; you would have thought spinners at both ends would have been the way to go.

It also didn’t help that Pakistan didn’t take any of their half-chances in the field.

They were all a little tough, but no-one was able to produce a game-changing moment of magic thanks to a great catch or smart run-out.

It is true that the pitch unexpectedly flattened but the history books show that this was second-highest total England have chased at Old Trafford in a Test match and given the precarious position England were in, Pakistan should have won the game one way or another, even if it was just by two runs.

Still, give credit where it’s due: Buttler had had a very indifferent game behind the stumps before his excellent knock and Woakes played what was perhaps the best innings with the bat of his Test career.

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Broad rewards

It’s a crying shame Pakistan didn’t seal the deal to give us a winner at 6.0, but we ended the First Test in profit, nonetheless.

Rs. 100 on Broad at 3.6 paid out 260 in profit and minus the 100 on Pakistan, that’s still us up 160 over the Test.

For the record, Jofra Archer also took three wickets in the first innings, but we won on Broad because he conceded fewer runs than Archer:  54 to Archer’s 59.

So, a little stroke of luck that in the end we won thanks to Broad conceding just five runs less but we’ve had a situation in the past when the reverse occurred, so these things balance themselves out.

What next?

We now move onto the Ageas Bowl at Southampton for the Second Test. Pakistan won’t have too much time to reflect on what went wrong before the action starts on Thursday again, but it may be enough.

Shadab’s place in the side looks a little vulnerable and one possibility is to play wicket-keeper batsman and former skipper Sarfraz Ahmed there and play one less bowler.

There may also be a place in the side for the super-quick Usman Shinwari, with teenager Naseem Shah likely to give way after an indifferent game where he just took two wickets, if Shinwari gets a game.

But they may also feel that Shah at eight (despite his excellent cameo) is at least one place too high and that they’re essentially playing three number 11s in the side – Naseem Shah, Afridi and Mohammad Abbas – and that it’s their batting they actually need to strengthen.

Lots to think about.  

Spinner Yasir Shah

As for England, they’re highly likely to stick with their Top Seven but veteran James Anderson who had a quiet game, might get a rest in favour of Mark Wood, though Archer didn’t have a great Test either and could give way himself.

Stating the obvious that…

We’ll have a full preview of the Second Test that includes some historical stats, analysis of the pitch and conditions and of course, those all-important betting tips as we try to show a profit once again.

We’ll be laying down some more cricket betting tips just for you, based on our own statistical research.

See you then!

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