KARACHI: Pakistan’s winter of misery continued on Monday here at the National Stadium where teenage spinner Rehan Ahmed became their latest tormentor.
Rehan finished with 5-48 on the third day of the final Test to become the youngest debutant to take a five-wicket haul in Test cricket, at 18 years and 128 days old.
In the process, he all but ended Pakistan’s hopes of a consolation win as he put England on the cusp of becoming the first visiting team to whitewash the hosts 3-0 in a Test series.
Pakistan were well on track to pile up a substantial lead to stay alive in the match with skipper Babar Azam and Saud Shakeel putting on 110 runs for the fourth wicket. But Rehan, playing only his fourth first-class match, tore through the Pakistani batting line-up as he took the prized scalps of Babar, Saud and Mohammad Rizwan in a scintillating spell of leg-spin that left Pakistan completely bamboozled.
The hosts lost their last seven wickets for just 52 runs as they were bowled out for 216, giving England a victory target of just 167. Looking to finish the job by stumps, England openers Zak Crawley and Ben Duckett pounded the toothless Pakistani attack to race to 87 in the 12th over. But after Crawley fell to leggie Abrar Ahmed, England were unable to complete the rout and will need to return on Tuesday morning to get the remaining 55 runs. At 112-2, they are perfectly placed to complete the whitewash in the first hour of the fourth morning with Duckett unbeaten at 50 and Ben Stokes batting at 10.
One cannot help but praise Stokes for his bold captaincy and players like rookie Rehan for playing their part but England’s cause was helped by Pakistan.
And the biggest culprit was their captain Babar. He is Pakistan’s premier batsman and had a perfect opportunity to redeem himself yet again after cruising to 54 on Monday. Together with Saud, he had managed to rebuild Pakistan’s innings. At 164-3, Pakistan were in a position to set a target of something close to 300. And then Babar just threw it away. He hit a loose delivery from Rehan straight to Ollie Pope at mid-wicket soon after completing his 1000 Test runs in 2022. Just 22 overs later, Pakistan were all out and England were getting ready to completely beat them into submission after winning the first two Tests in Rawalpindi and Multan.
Babar might have handed his crucial wicket on a platter but Rehan truly earned his next two victims – Rizwan and Saud. Either of them had to play the sort of big knock that Pakistan needed after Babar’s fall. But Rehan made sure neither of them stayed at the crease for long enough to do it.
He came out with a perfect legbreak that found Rizwan’s outside edge and then bowled a fine googly which was top-edged by Saud straight to square leg. Saud, who made 53 from 133 balls with the help of six fours, left ruing yet another lost opportunity to play what could have been a memorable knock. In the final session, Rehan took two more with Mohammad Wasim Jr hitting one to mid-off and Salman Agha miscuing a sweep to backward square leg where Harry Brook made no mistake. Rehan dropped for a sajda as his father Naeem applauded in the stands. It was indeed a dream debut for the Nottingham-born youngster.
“I don’t think it has sunk in yet, but yes I am very grateful,” he told reporters. He admitted that Babar’s wicket came off a bad ball but stressed that it was still special.
“I bowled better balls and not got wickets, so to get a wicket is nice, especially when it is Babar,” added Rehan, who has surpassed Australia pacer Pat Cummins who, at 18 years 193 days old, took five wickets in his debut Test against South Africa in Johannesburg back in 2011.
AFP adds: Earlier, spinner Jack Leach had Pakistan reeling after he knocked over openers Shan Masood and Abdullah Shafique and veteran Azhar Ali, appearing in his last match, with only one run added.
Pakistan started the fourth day on nearly even footing, with openers Shafique and Masood looking set and erasing England’s 50-run lead without the loss of a wicket. But any optimism was snatched away by England’s methodical spinners.
Leach bowled Shan – attempting an ill-advised reverse sweep – for 24, the dismissal sparking the first cluster of wickets. Top-order stalwart Azhar Ali was denied a fairy-tale ending to a storied career that has spanned 97 Tests and 7,142 runs.
Azhar was beaten by spin as he played a forward push on the final ball of Leach’s momentum-changing double-wicket maiden. His stumps shattered, Azhar walked off the field for the last time, ending 12 years as a first-team regular.
The England players clapped as Azhar trudged back to the dressing room, while Pakistan’s players raised their bats at the boundary for a ceremonial guard of honour.
Pakistan won the toss
Pakistan 1st innings: 304
England 1st innings: 354
Pakistan 2nd innings
Abdullah lbw b Leach 26
Shan b Leach 24
Azhar b Leach 0
Babar c Pope b Ahmed 54
Saud c Leach b Ahmed 53
Rizwan c Foakes b Ahmed 7
Salman c Brook b Ahmed 21
Faheem c Foakes b Root 1
Ali lbw b Wood 15
Wasim c Robinson b Ahmed 2
Abrar not out 1
Extras: (b4, lb3, nb5) 12
Total: 74.5 overs 216
Fall of wickets: 1-53, 2-53, 3-54, 4-164, 5-176, 6-177, 7-178, 8-208, 9-211
Bowling: Leach 26-6-72-3, Root 7-1-31-1, Ahmed 14.5-1-48-5, Wood 12-3-25-1, Robinson 7-1-13-0, Stokes 8-3-20-0
England 2nd innings
Crawley lbw b Ahmed 41
Duckett not out 50
Ahmed b Ahmed 10
Stokes not out 10
Extras: (lb1) 1
Total: 17 overs 112
Fall of wickets: 1-87, 2-97
Did not bat: Pope, Root, Brook, Foakes, Robinson, Wood, Leach
Bowling: Ahmed 6-0-43-2, Nauman 5-0-38-0, Wasim 4-0-17-0, Ashraf 2-0-13-0
Umpires: Joel Wilson,Ahsan Raza
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