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Joe Root hails England’s unwavering belief after Chris Woakes’ batting heroics help beat Pakistan

England captain Joe Root insisted he always believed his side could pull off another miracle after Chris Woakes’ heroics with the bat helped them seal a thrilling three-wicket win in the first Test against Pakistan in Manchester.

Root pinpointed last summer’s epic World Cup final against New Zealand at Lord’s and the barely-believable Ben Stokes-inspired Ashes win against Australia at Headingley as moments that have forged a belief among England’s players that anything is possible.

That was shown by Woakes as the all-rounder’s nerveless unbeaten 84 helped England recover from 117-5 on the final day to chase down 277. The all-rounder’s sixth-wicket stand of 139 with under-pressure wicketkeeper Jos Buttler proved the turning point.

And Root insisted: ‘After last summer it is very hard to stop believing. We know anything is possible. One thing you can never doubt in our dressing room is the character. I am really proud and pleased that has shone through today.

‘It’s up there, it was a brilliant chase. It was a fantastic Test match all round, credit to Pakistan, I thought they played some brilliant cricket over the four days and I couldn’t be more proud of the lads. I thought the way we approached today, in particular, was outstanding.

‘That partnership between Woakesy and Jos was magnificent. I thought they were very clever about how they went about it, how they constructed it and I’m thrilled to bits to be stood here having won the game.

‘At 117-5 we knew it was going to take something special but after last summer, it is very hard to stop believing. We never give up and that is a real strong trait of ours.’

Root also hailed Buttler, whose innings of 75 saw him overcome not only costly errors with the gloves earlier in the match but also an illness to his father that had seen him admitted to hospital on Friday evening.

‘It shows a huge amount about him as a person to carry that and be able to either use that or park that going into this innings,’ said Root. ‘I’m sure it’s a very difficult thing not to think about but to be able to deal with that and still be able to play in that manner was exceptional.

‘One of his big traits is that when he is under pressure he puts in big performances. You can deal with those high-pressure situations but to have that external pressure as well it must have been very difficult for him to deal with.’

On Buttler’s innings, Root added: ‘That’s why Jos Buttler is in this team,’ he said. ‘It shows his strength of character, strength of mind. I think this could be a real stepping stone in his career.’

Buttler, whose father John returned home from hospital yesterday, said of his missed catch and stumping earlier in the match that saw him reprieve Pakistan’s first-innings centurion Shan Masood twice on 45: ‘If I take those chances, we’re not chasing 270-odd. I know it’s not good enough as an international wicketkeeper. I know I didn’t keep well enough. As a wicketkeeper there is nowhere to hide. Anyone who drops a catch knows it’s the worst feeling in Test cricket.

‘I found it tough and hard to shut out. If I am going to continue to be a wicketkeeper in this team, I’m going to have to be better.’

Man-of-the-match Woakes, who also took four wickets during a brilliant all-round display, said: ‘I just think batting positively was the way to go on that wicket. 

‘Me and Jos spoke and thought that if we could get a few runs quickly and build a partnership that way, that was the way to go. We wrestled back a bit of the initiative, especially at the start when we scored quickly, and we just felt that was the way to go.

‘In a way being 117-5 made up our minds for us, it played into our hands in the end. The idea to take it to them and put them under a bit more pressure, particularly in that position felt like the right thing to do and, looking back in hindsight, it was the perfect thing to do. A great partnership with Jos, I was playing second fiddle at one stage, just letting him do his thing.’

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