For all the talk that test cricket was dying, England vs Pakistan issued a timely reminder when we needed it most that it was most certainly alive.

The United Kingdom, and indeed the rest of the world have been marred by the deadly pandemic but on a rare sunny day in Manchester, we were given a taste of why we’d missed sport so much during lockdown.

This wasn’t quite Headingley and Ben Stokes levels but England were absolutely fantastic with the bat.

On a day where Chris Silverwood’s men needed to be right at the top of their game, they chased down 277 to win in thrilling fashion by three wickets.

England’s day initially got off to a shoddy start as Jofra Archer was carted for two boundaries by Yasir Shah in the very first over.

The Pakistan leg spinner was keen to get stuck into the bowling and he did that to superb effect. Pakistan ended up adding over 30 runs to their overnight total to finish on 169 all out.

Stuart Broad got Yasir to nick behind before Archer made a mess of Naseem Shah’s stumps. Full and fast did the trick for the pacey seamer.

England’s reply to the 277 they required was steady. That was until Rory Burns got pinned on the crease and had to depart LBW off the bowling of Mohammed Abbas for just ten.

The hosts managed to build well after that setback as skipper Joe Root and Dominic Sibley saw off the threat off Yasir with relative ease. They put on 64 for the second wicket but the tourist’s leg break bowler soon found his groove.

He picked up the wicket of Sibley for 36 before Root quickly departed eight runs short of a half-century after nicking a beauty of a delivery from Naseem to first slip.

England were on the ropes when talisman Ben Stokes feathered the ball behind from Yasir and then Pope received a snorter of a delivery from Shaheen Shah Afridi that smacked him on the glove before looping up for a simple catch.

That left Root’s side with plenty of work to do as they found themselves 117 for 5.

However, step forward Chris Woakes and Jos Buttler. The England pair put on nearly 150 for the sixth wicket as the duo got stuck into the soft and degrading old ball.

Buttler was at his free-flowing best, treating the innings like an ODI chase, rotating the strike and capitalising on any stray bowling. He smoked two fours off of one over before going to 50.

Woakes soon followed with a 50 of his own, hitting a gorgeous cover drive to the rope for four.

This was one of the fast bowler’s best batting performances in an England shirt, as he and Buttler staked their claims for the next test.

Buttler hit a huge six to the cow corner boundary which ended up in the stands and then Woakes drove a delicious shot down the ground as England closed in on a famous victory.

A test full of drama, there was more to come after Buttler was given out LBW with the score on 256. With the wicket-keeper going for 75, an England win was within touching distance.

Woakes remained at the crease but Broad was then given out leg before wicket too – this time it was absolutely plumb as Yasir picked up his fourth victim.

Dom Bess came to the crease but wasn’t really needed as England eventually saw things home. Shaheen bowled a probing length but Woakes edged it through the vacant slip region to the boundary for four.

It was a dramatic finish to a quite fabulous test match. Woakes the hero, finishing on 84 not out.

written by Matt Dawson