Jonny Bairstow believes England have 'real fighting chance' despite Pakistan's lead

David Clough 26/05/2018
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England wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow is keeping the faith.

Jonny Bairstow insists England are still in with a “real fighting chance” despite Pakistan‘s 166-run lead in the first NatWest Test at Lord’s.

England’s wicketkeeper appeared to bristle at times when he was invited to account for the five catches dropped by the hosts while Pakistan were racking up 300 runs on day two to close on 350 for eight.

Most of the damage was already done in England’s 184 all out, after Joe Root had chosen to bat first.

But after four Pakistan batsmen then reached 50, despite three wickets each for Ben Stokes and James Anderson, 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.

But he added: “You don’t want to be looking back – you want to be looking forward. Those last two wickets at the end (tonight) 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. I’m sure you saw over the days leading in the amount of practice we’ve done.

“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.”

He discounted any theory that regular changes in fielding positions may be a contributory factor.

“Absolutely not, absolutely not,” he said. “It’s good to have people to be able to field in different positions. It shows we’ve got guys who are confident (doing that).

“You can look into it as much as you wish, and make up whatever ideas you want about who fields where. You put the best people in there.”

Stokes was the pick of England’s bowlers, and it was he who hit top-scorer Babar Azam on the wrist with a hostile short ball – after which he retired hurt on 68.

Bairstow added: “Credit to the way they’ve batted today. They’ve stuck at it well and played with skill.

“We beat the bat a lot, the guys put in a serious shift today. They applied themselves and bowled with great skill. Unfortunately we did put a couple of chances down, but that happens.”

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.”

Pakistan are hoping Babar will be able to resume his innings on the third morning, depending on the outcome of scans on his sore arm.

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Hey everyone, it’s Jay Asser here giving you a bitesize look at what’s going on this evening in the world of sport.

TOP STORY 

England v Pakistan: 1st Test - Day Two

Pakistan are steadily building their lead over England in the first test at Lord’s, with their advantage now in triple figures.

Asad Shafiq and Babar Azam built a strong partnership after Pakistan had reached 136-3 at lunch, but the former was caught out while the latter retired hurt.

Now, Shadab Khan and Faheem Ashraf are carrying the load and keep the runs ticking along.

Follow all the live action here.

FOOTBALL

It’s all about the lead-up to the Champions League final on Saturday, when Liverpool or Real Madrid will claim the European crown. Cristiano Ronaldo has been dealing with injury concerns of late but the star striker has looked fantastic in training.

While that Ronaldo prepares for the monumental clash, former Real Madrid striker Ronaldo weighed in on Mohamed Salah, comparing the Liverpool talisman to Barcelona’s Lionel Messi.

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CRICKET

If you’re not following the IPL Qualifier between the Kolkata Knight Riders and Sunrisers Hyderabad right now, you should. A burst from Rashid Khan at the end of Hyderabad’s innings pushed their total to 174. Follow along live as Kolkata make their chase.

In England, Mark Ramprakash will take over Andy Flower’s coaching duties with the Lions. Ramprakash will combine his Lions role with that of current England batting coach. Read more about the change here.

REGIONAL

Don’t get caught without a place to watch the Champions League final in the UAE. Check out these options across Dubai and Abu Dhabi for the best venues to experience an electric atmosphere on Saturday.

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Our man Brendon Netto dove deep on the match-up between Liverpool and Real Madrid, taking a look at each team’s strengths and weaknesses. This is worth your time.

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