England v Pakistan: Don’t write our middle order off just yet, pleads Chris Woakes

England's Chris Woakes.
England's Chris Woakes.
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Chris Woakes insists England’s new-look middle order can still meet the Test match standard despite a marked slump against Pakistan at Lord’s.

Woakes took 6-70 with the ball and ended the first Test’s second day with an unbeaten 31, but England struggled and still trail the tourists by 86 runs.

Yasir Shah’s superlative 5-64 ripped through England’s middle order, making good on Pakistan’s pre-series promise to reveal a soft centre among the hosts. Alex Hales, Gary Ballance and James Vince all failed with the bat, England losing three key wickets for 55 runs, before Woakes and Stuart Broad stabilised proceedings to 253-7 at stumps.

Warwickshire seamer Woakes vowed to form an extended partnership with Broad today, to bring England back into the action, and backed the side’s middle order to come good across the four-Test series.

“It’s the first Test of the series, there’s still a long series to go so I wouldn’t write us off yet,” said Woakes.

“Fingers crossed we can turn things around a bit tomorrow.

“When you’re a batsman and you don’t score runs there’s always pressure for you to score runs in your next innings.

“But we’re still in a decent position in the Test match, by no means are we completely out of it.

“We had a little tricky patch in the middle order there but sometimes that’s what happens.

“Broady and I have a big job to do in the morning, to build a partnership and maybe take us past Pakistan and build a little bit of a lead if we can.”

Buoyed by his first five-wicket haul in Test cricket, Woakes admitted England must devise better strategies to cope with the in-form Yasir.

Mohammad Amir forced Alastair Cook to play on after racking up 81, while Joe Root top-edged Yasir trying to get after the spinner, leaving Woakes admitting England were frustrated with several of the wickets to fall.

“We will be a little disappointed with a couple of dismissals, particularly Cooky and Rooty who had done well to put us into a good position,” said Woakes.

“We probably gave Yasir one or two. It’s a pretty good pitch, but he got a couple to turn and slide, so that’s always tricky.”

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