In an interview with Sky Sports, Former England skipper Michael Atherton has said that Alastair Cook and Joe Root will have to play a big role if England wants to defeat Pakistan in the first Test match.

Pakistan ended the third day in a strong position. However, a brilliant bowling display by Chris Woakes has kept the hosts in the match. After dismissing England on 272 and taking a lead of 67 runs, Pakistan ended the third day on 214 for 8. Pakistan began poorly and lost 4 wickets with only 60 on the board. However, useful contributions from Asad Shafiq, Younis Khan,Sarfraz Khan and Yasir Shah propelled the hosts to take a commanding lead of 281 runs. Considering the fact that England highest successful chase at Lord’s is 284 runs, which came against New Zealand in 2004, the English batsmen will have to play out of their skin to take a 1-0 lead in the four- Test series.

“The game is in the balance,” Atherton said. It’s been a brilliant Test match so far and if I was Pakistan’s captain with about 300 on the board and that attack, I’d be reasonably confident of defending because it’s a wicket-taking attack.

“However, England have got some excellent players and a lot will rest on Cook and Root.If they go early England have got little chance of chasing 300 but if they set it up we could be in for a cracking Test match.”

“It’s a perfectly good pitch,” he added.

“The odd ball has kept a little low and there will be some spin for Yasir Shah, but it’s not a minefield by any stretch of the imagination.”

Atherton heaped praise on all-rounder Chris Woakes.  Woakes  followed his first-innings figures of 6-70 with 5-31 in the second innings to become the first England bowler to take five or more wickets in each innings of a Test at Lord’s since Ian Botham in 1978. This is also Woakes’ maiden 10-wicket haul in a Test match.

“He’s just full of confidence at the moment,” Atherton said.

“He came back in for the Durham Test match just after he’d taken nine wickets in an innings for Warwickshire.
Before that Test we did a piece as to why he hadn’t been a success in Test cricket and it was very hard to come up with any reasons why because we recognised he had a very solid action, he was bowling as quickly as anybody in the team, he bowls an excellent line and gets enough lateral movement in the air and off the pitch.”

“It was just a case of a matter of time and also stringing together a number of games so he could feel confident and part of the team.

“He is part of it now and looks strong, fit and confident.”

Yasir Shah(30) and Mohammad Amir (0) will resume Pakistan’s innings on the fourth day.

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