Pakistan v England: Rehan Ahmed takes two wickets on Karachi debut

Rehan Ahmed is only playing his fourth first-class match
Third test, Karachi (day one out of five)
Pakistan 304 all eliminated: Babar 78 years old, Agha 56 years old; Page 4-140
England 7-1: Duckett 4*, Abrar 1-2

Rehan Ahmed took major wickets as England beat Pakistan for 304 on the first day of the final test in Karachi.

Leg-spinner Ahmed, at 18 years and 126 days, the youngest man to play a Test for England, went from a nervous start to claim 2-89.

Ahmed had Saud Shakeel caught short-legged to break a partnership at the fourth wicket involving Pakistan captain Babar Azam, who was then crucially run down for 78.

When Ahmed made Faheen Ashraf’s leg with a magic googly, Pakistan, who had won the draw, were reduced to 237-7.

Salman Agha and recalled Nauman Ali fought back in a 48 position before Nauman caught up with Jack Leach.

Salman continued to counterattack before being blocked for 56 against Leach, who finished at 4-140.

On a pitch that looked set to turn more and more, England lost Zak Crawley on ball five of their answer and closed 7-1, trailing by 297.

England already hold an unassailable 2-0 series lead and are looking to become the first team to leave Pakistan with a clean 3-0 sweep.

England impress with the ball

Rehan Ahmed’s father, Naeem, was present when his son received his Test cap

It was a historic day before a ball was thrown. Ahmed, with his father by his side, was presented with his England cap by former captain Nasser Hussain to break a record held by Brian Close since 1949.

At the other end of his career, Azhar Ali was recalled in one of four changes to the Pakistani side – the batter playing his final test after announcing his retirement on Friday.

All of the pre-game talk was about how the pitch might turn. Indeed, Leach became the first spinner to open bowling for England in the first innings of a Test since 1921.

Support for the spinners was slow to arrive – the surface seemed suited to batting for much of Saturday.

Such conditions looked dangerous for England with James Anderson rested, Ollie Robinson struggling with illness, Mark Wood only used in short bursts and the Callow Ahmed on his debut.

Aided by a few Pakistani mistakes, however, England used the creativity and determination that have become a trademark under captain Ben Stokes to work their way through the home stick.

Yet the scale of England’s batting task both now and in the closing innings of the match was demonstrated by Abrar Ahmed straightening a delivery that trapped Crawley on the back foot.

Ahmed’s teen kicks

England’s decision to give the new ball to Leach was vindicated when the left hander pinned Abdullah Shafique lbw but, for most of the day, it was Ahmed who carried the biggest rotational threat from England.

Introduced into the attack in the 17th, Ahmed struggled early on – his first five overs cost 37 runs.

The Leicestershire man was transformed after lunch, holding his length and often cheating on the home side with his googly tear.

Ahmed’s second spell brought the special moment of his first wicket – the southpaw Shakeel clipped a leg inside on his pad and was taken well by a short-legged Ollie Pope dive.

Ahmed was the bowler when Babar was exhausted, after which he tormented Faheem. Eventually Faheem played all around a googly delivered from the wicket trick and was obviously lbw.

Leach bore the brunt of the Pakistani counterattack, to have the last laugh. Nauman swept halfway, the dancing Salman was puzzled by a distance, and the last man Abrar was knocked down by one that spun sharply.

Crucial Babar has sold out the biggest of Pakistani gifts

Babar Azam quits after being fired
Babar Azam looked set to reach a century before being unnecessarily exhausted

It was a poor display from the hosts, who were complicit in a number of dismissals even before Babar’s huge wicket waste.

Shan Masood edged a thin-legged bouncer Wood to go down for 30, Azhar gloved Robinson to the leg side for 45 and Mohammad Rizwan needlessly hacked Joe Root into the hands of Stokes deep into the leg side.

Babar, however, was striking beautifully. He had barely pulled out of the game when a thin crowd started chanting his name.

Playing with confidence, smooth timing and perfect placement, the captain seemed destined for the begging century.

When Salman spun the ball in the side of the leg and launched into a very tight single. Harry Brook dived and wicketkeeper Ben Foakes did well to muster a low throw, tumble and smash the stumps in one motion.

Salman made slight amends with his half-century before Pakistan lost their last three wickets for 19 runs.

More soon.


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