England pace bowler Chris Woakes says his side has encountered impossible-looking situations in the past and overcome them, giving him confidence that they can effect a turnaround in the first Test against Pakistan. Pakistan have extended their lead to 244, a total which has not be chased more than once in the history of Old Trafford.
Last summer England won the World Cup final and Headingley Ashes Test from seemingly impossible positions. "You will hear a lot about records and run-chases, but they are there to be broken. You look at those wins - those are the sort where we were written off," Woakes was quoted as saying by BBC Sport.
"We've definitely got the ability. It's obviously going to be difficult, but we have got the players that can do it, " he said.
England need to take two wickets to wrap the second innings Pakistan, who are 137 for eight. England struck late in the third day to stay in the hunt, taking four wickets in the final session. Woakes had contributed by dismissing Babr Azam and skipper Azhar Ali.
"You have to believe. We'll certainly give it a good go. It will be a huge win if we are able to do it," he said.
England all-rounder Ben Stokes went for a nought in the first innings but took two wickets in quick succession in Pakistan's second innings, removing Mohammad Rizwan and Shaheen Afridi. Woakes was effusive in praise of Stokes, who was instrumental in their World Cup triumph. "I'm not overly surprised he did what he does. We know he's capable of miracles. I had no idea he was able to bowl. It was nice to see him back performing. He's got a knack of picking up wickets.
"When you are in a dogfight, he is the sort of player you want on your team."
Woakes hails Stokes
Woakes said it was no surprise to see fellow all-rounder Ben Stokes drag England back into the first Test against Pakistan at Old Trafford on Friday as "we know he is capable of miracles".
Stokes who didn't bowl in the third Test against the West Indies at Old Trafford last month because of a quad injury, took 2-11 in 21 balls late on the third day as Pakistan reached stumps on 137-8 in their second innings -- a lead of 244 runs. England, outplayed for most of this match, now have a shot at claiming an unlikely victory after Stokes had Mohammad Rizwan lbw with just his eighth ball of the match before he bounced out tailender Shaheen Afridi.
Last year, Stokes starred with the ball before his stunning unbeaten century saw England to an outrageous one-wicket in the third Test against Australia at Headingley. And Woakes, who also took 2-11 on Friday, said there was every chance the England vice-captain could repeat his Ashes heroics in Manchester.
"I'm not overly surprised that he could do what he did," Woakes told reporters. "That's Ben Stokes, we know he is capable of miracles.
"He's got a bit of a golden arm, he always has had. He has the knack of picking up wickets.
"When you are in a bit of dog fight, he's the sort of player you want in your team. He always puts his hand up and gives 110 percent."
Pakistan will now hope leg-spinner Yasir Shah, who took 4-66 in England's first-innings 219, can boost their total when he resumes on his overnight 12 not out. The tourists are still relatively well-placed. Only twice has a team chased more than 200 to win in the fourth innings of a Test at Old Trafford, with England making 294-4 against New Zealand in 2008 and 231-3 against the West Indies at the Manchester ground in 2004.
England are trying to end a run of losing the first Test in each of their last five series.
And they will need to bat well on a wearing pitch where Yasir took three for four in 27 balls on Friday to leave England over a hundred runs behind Pakistan's first-innings 326. "We are very confident, the lead is 244 at the moment," said Pakistan spin-bowling coach Mushtaq Ahmed.
"If we can get another 20 to 30 runs that will be a very good score on that pitch."
Earlier, Shan Masood -- who made a Test-best 156 in Pakistan's first innings -- was out for a duck when caught behind down the legside off a poor Stuart Broad delivery. Woakes reduced Pakistan to 63-4, having Babar Azam caught in the slips by Stokes before Pakistan captain Azhar Ali, out for a duck in the first innings, was lbw for 18 to the in-form paceman. Wicketkeeper Rizwan, far more impressive behind the stumps than England counterpart Jos Buttler, batted well in a stand of 38 with Asad Shafiq, until Shafiq was run out by Dom Sibley's direct hit.
England resumed Friday on 92-4, having collapsed to 12-3. Ollie Pope was 46 not out and Buttler 15 not out. Buttler, with just one hundred from his previous 44 Tests, was under pressure to score runs after costly mistakes behind the stumps. He dropped Masood on 45 and then missed a chance to stump him on the same score -- errors that intensified the debate about the World Cup-winner's Test place. Pope completed a composed 81-ball fifty.
But there was little he could do when, on 62, a Naseem Shah delivery that lept off a good length to take the shoulder of his bat was caught in the gully by Shadab Khan. England suffered a fresh collapse after lunch, losing their last five wickets for 60 runs in a sequence that started when Yasir bowled Buttler for 38.