Chris Woakes: ‘Felt like it was good enough wicket to be able to chase any score’
Seamer says England will aim to “tick it off slowly” in pursuit of their highest successful chase
England were set 368 to win, a total they have never successfully chased in the fourth innings. But having made an impressive start to their second innings on the fourth evening – they will resume on the final day on 77 without loss – Woakes felt the team had the belief and the skill to pull off a “great, great chase”.
Woakes also pointed out that the surface on which England’s bowlers toiled for 148.2 overs in India’s second innings remained thankless for bowlers and should hold few fears for batters.
“We felt like it was a good enough wicket to be able to chase any score,” Woakes said. “To go all the way and chase down that score would be an incredible effort. It would be a great, great chase.
“But our openers have done a great job and put us in a good position to start on the final day. To get another 291 on a day-five pitch always sounds like a tough ask but we’ve got to keep reminding ourselves that this pitch is still good for batting and we can do it if we bat well all the way down.
“We just have to tick it off slowly. We won’t get too far ahead of ourselves. I hear that it’ll be a full house here at The Oval, so the atmosphere will be great. And that’s where you want to be as a player. I watched the first three Tests of this series at home and was desperate to be a part of it, so I’m absolutely buzzing to be here and hopefully we have an opportunity to win tomorrow.”
“That game was a very different scenario to what we have here,” said Woakes, who finished unbeaten on 84 as England won by three wickets in Manchester. “But I think this pitch is probably better than that one.
“But at the same time, you know every chase is different. You need guys to get themselves in and create big partnerships and that puts pressure on the opposition from a bowling point of view. We’ve been in this position many times as a side and when you’re bowling, you’re under pressure to take wickets. Each run is chipping away at the opposition. The longer you can get guys batting together and create a partnership that makes it more difficult for the opposition.
“This team has done some special things over the last few years in different formats. These are the times you want to be part of it. We’re trying to do something special. It’s a great place to be.
“There’s a lot of hard work still to be done but you can draw on those experiences. You can look back on what we’ve done in the past and what we’re capable of as a team. A lot of time it’s just about believing you’ve got the ability to do that and then going out and executing it. Everyone will be in agreement with the fact that we can go on and get the runs; there’ll be no doubt about that.”
George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo