Jonny Bairstow insists England are still in with a chance of a comeback win in the first NatWest Test despite Pakistan’s 166-run lead at Lord’s.
England’s wicketkeeper appeared to bristle at times when he was invited to account for the five catches dropped while Pakistan were racking up 300 runs on day two to close on 350 for eight.
After four Pakistan batsmen reached 50, England are clinging to the hope that forecast hot weather over the weekend may bake an already dry surface and leave the tourists a tough last-innings target.
To bring that into the equation, England will have to bat much better at the second attempt.
Asked if he thinks they may yet turn the match around, Bairstow said: “Absolutely, we’re still definitely in it.
“In the middle two innings, if we can gain parity with their score, then we’ve got an opportunity to bowl them out for 180 when it’s potentially the worst to bat, in the last.
“There’s no reason why we can’t (do that).”
Bairstow concedes England “could have batted better” against some fine bowling in their first-innings 184 all out.
But he added: “You don’t want to be looking back – you want to be looking forward.
“Those last two wickets at the end (of the day) have put us in with a real fighting chance.
“Days three and four are potentially the best time to bat on this wicket. By no means are we out of this game.”
As for England’s dropped catches, Bairstow said: “It’s not from (lack of) practice, that’s for sure.
“If you can put your finger on it, you’re welcome to come and join us in practice. You see the hard graft the guys are putting in with the catching.”
While Bairstow understandably had little to smile about, it said much about the state of play that a beaming Azhar Ali began his press conference by shaking the majority of reporters by the hand.
The opener is not yet taking victory here for granted, however.
“Obviously we’ve got in a good position now – but there’s a long way to go,” said Azhar.
“A Test match win never comes that easy. We know we’ll still have to play good cricket to win this one.”
Babar Azam is set to miss the remainder of Pakistan’s tour of England after an x-ray showed he suffered a fracture to his forearm when he was hit just above his left wrist by a short ball from Ben Stokes.
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