Ben Stokes on England's early declaration: 'Had to entice Pakistan'
Ben Stokes opened up on England's shocking declaration on the fourth afternoon of the Rawalpindi Test against Pakistan, wherein the visitors called their batting effort off only 342 runs ahead with four sessions of play left on a benign surface.
That England ultimately propelled to a win by 64 runs would paper over the ambitious nature of the declaration a little bit. But the hindsight wouldn't still justify giving Pakistan ample enough time to get to what many felt was an insignificant target.
Ben Stokes, however, explained the rationale behind his team's call under the supervision of head coach Brendon McCullum, stating they wanted to dangle the carrot and "entice" Pakistan into taking a few calculative risks by encouraging them to go for the win.
The England captain said that was the only way to break open the game on a lifeless deck: by indirectly urging Pakistan to go for the glory and catching them in the trap with some disciplined bowling led by the ever-skilful James Anderson and his able ally Ollie Robinson, who shared eight wickets in the final innings.
Ben Stokes on England's Rawalpindi declaration
"We wanted to come here to Pakistan and carry on with our mantra of exciting cricket," Ben Stokes said at the post-match interaction. "I've got no interest in trying to play for a draw, the dressing room has no interest in playing for a draw. Felt on this kind of wicket, almost had to entice the batsmen to play an attacking shot."
The game was set up by the batting unit that Bazball'd their way to a humoungous 657 in the first-innings in only 101 overs and then made 264/7 in less than 36 overs. Stokes highlighted the importance of his team marrying their ultra-aggressive strategy with the surface in play, something their coach would've been delighted with.
"We've played 8-9 matches with myself and Brendon in charge. One thing we try to do is focus on ourselves and not the opposition. We know we're a very exciting team," Stokes said. "Was a great batting surface, so it was an opportunity for our batting group. Having the lads truck in like they did today was amazing. Really special group of players."
The premier English allrounder deemed his team's first triumph in Pakistan in 17 years in what were conditions that the three lions have historically never warmed up to as one of their very best in Test match history away from home.
"Today we were fortunate to get the ball reverse-swinging," he said. "James Anderson and Ollie Robinson were fantastic today. We won probably about 8 minutes before we would've come off. This is probably up there as one of England's greatest away wins."