Chris Woakes and Jos Buttler pull off great Manchester Test heist to stun Pakistan

Stunning fifties secure three-wicket win while chasing 277 to secure 1-0 lead for England

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This was the first time since lockdown cricket started that live support was really missing from the drama. We know from first-hand experience that days like this are better when shared.

The noise that accompanies Pakistan’s bowlers when they are on a burner is usually deafening. The colours beyond the boundary always a riot.

And how a packed party stand at Old Trafford would have lapped up Jos Buttler (75) and Chris Woakes’ (84 not out) fourth-innings counter-attack in a classic three-wicket win in the first Test for England over Pakistan chasing 277.

It had almost everything. A reborn batsman – Shan Masood – making a dream return to the country he deems his second home, and exorcising ghosts by making a fine first innings century.

There was the continuing emergence of the next generation: Naseem Shah, 17, Shaheen Afridi, 20, and Ollie Pope, 22, all shone at times.

Yasir Shah had a turning pitch to play with. Stuart Broad carried on walking the walk with the ball. Buttler was awful, then brilliant.

There was even a little hint of the spite that usually accompanies meetings between these two old rivals.

When Rory Burns was sent on his way after falling to Mohammed Abbas early in England’s fourth innings, he checked his course to the dressing room, and raised a gloved finger to his lips to shush a send off from Pakistan.

All it lacked were cheers that did not echo in the emptiness.

Some did their best to fill the void. A lone saxophonist spent some time in the afternoon outside the locked gates and playing Dil Dil Pakistan. Later, a drummer in a Pakistan shirt struck up a beat on the platform of the adjacent tram stop.

The touring side also had the support of the guests at the on-site hotel – namely their one-day international colleagues within the bio-secure bubble, who were watching from their balconies.

Who knows if it would have been different if people had been able to attend. Pakistan have proved so many times in Test matches in Dubai, Sharjah and Abu Dhabi – as well, in truth, at home – that they do not require a crowd to raise them.

But had they had that sort of raucous support that usually follows them in England, the home side might have found an already problematic run chase even more challenging.

England could scarcely have been more precariously placed that when they were 117-5, pursuing 277 to win.

Yasir had taken two wickets, Afridi, Naseem and Abbas one apiece, and the fifth wicket pitched together two players who have had their troubles in the recent past.

Buttler was carrying with him the burden of the fact he had twice spared Masood in his 40s in the first innings. Masood ended up with 156, so Buttler was plenty in debt.

At the other end, Woakes was being backed – for the second Test in a row – to be England’s No7, despite being run-shy just lately. In his previous 10 innings before this Test, he had made three ducks, and six single digit scores.

Against the odds, they set about building a partnership for the sixth wicket that eventually amounted to 139. Although Buttler went, lbw to Yasir for 75, their alliance had been the winning of the game.

When he fell, there were 21 still required. Broad was sent in to have a dash. He did, and got the hosts to within four of victory, before going the same way as Buttler.

The tension remained. All until the point that Woakes edged Afridi past the slip fielders for the four that gave England a three-wicket win.