Rehan Ahmed five-fer drags England closer to 3-0 result

Rehan Ahmed five-fer drags England closer to 3-0 result

cricket highlights sttaf•  Published on Mon, Dec 19, 2022, 08:30 PM

Rehan Ahmed five-fer drags England closer to 3-0 result
Rehan Ahmed five-fer drags England closer to 3-0 result

A breezy start to the run chase by Ben Duckett and Zak Crawley has helped England to 112 for 2 at the end of third day’s play at the National Stadium in Karachi, only 55 runs short of the target to complete a whitewash of Pakistan.

Chasing 167 for a win, the openers added 87 runs in only 11.3 overs before Zak Crawley got trapped legbefore by Abrar Ahmed on a run-a-ball 41. However, by then more than half the required total was wiped off and the hosts were firmly put on the backfoot.

In a fast-moving day, Pakistan had made a fairly reasonable start to the day, with openers Shan Masood and Abdullah Shafique wiping off the first innings deficit within 45 minutes of play. Masood took the attack to Joe Root in the first over itself, cracking the offspinner for three boundaries. However, soon after the 53-run opening stand, the hosts were put on the backfoot by Jack Leach, who bagged three wickets in the space of six balls.

Masood fell inside edging a reverse sweep on to his stumps, while Azhar Ali – playing his last Test innings – was undone by a classic left-arm spinner’s delivery, which looped and turned to hit the top of the offstump. To make matters worse, Shafique was trapped legbefore while playing a front foot defensive shot, and Pakistan slid to 54 for 3.

They were rescued from the tricky position by a 110-run stand between Babar Azam and Saud Shakeel, both of whom stroked fifties. Barring Shakeel’s occasional attack against Leach, the duo largely remained conservative with their approach. But didn’t shy away from taking advantage of the occasional loose deliveries. Quite unlike Pakistan, England remained on the offensive with their field setting.

Late into the second session’s play, when Pakistan seemed to have seized the momentum, Rehan Ahmed turned the tide around with three quick strikes. Babar, soon after bringing up his fifty, ended up smashing a half tracker to the mid wicket fielder. Mohammad Rizwan, in his brief stay, survived a few close chances but eventually ended up getting an outside edge to the ‘keeper. And Saud Shakeel top edged a sweep to the deep square leg fielder as Pakistan slid from 164 for 3 to 177 for 6.

There wasn’t much good news from the other end of the Tea break either as the English spinners continued to dominate. Faheem Ashraf was caught behind off Joe Root. Agha Salman and Nauman Ali provided brief resistance, keeping the English bowlers at bay for 10 overs, but Mark Wood eventually joined in the action and had the latter trapped legbefore. Eventhough the umpire didn’t rule him out, the visitors had the decision overturned with a review. Rehan took little time to wipe out the last two batters to return his maiden Test fifer and bundle out Pakistan for 216 in their second essay.

Even before Pakistan could find ways to make a contest out of the clash, they were firmly put on the backfoot by England’s early charge. Zak Crawley got going with a couple of boundaries in the opening over and Duckett followed suit in the next. The openers charged up and combined to go after Abrar in the third and slammed the spinner for three fours. The duo brought up the half-century stand in only 5.4 overs.

With Pakistan struggling to find a way back into the contest, in desperation they even burned two reviews. However, Abrar, who had conceded 28 runs in his first three overs, returned to pick two wickets in two overs. Soon after dismissing Crawley, he cleaned up nightwatcher Rehan Ahmed to reduce England to 97 for 2.

Stokes and Duckett dropped anchor in the last few minutes of play and headed to stumps safely, with the latter bringing up his half century.

Brief Scores: Pakistan 304 (Babar Azam 78, Agha Salman 56; Jack Leach 4-140) & 216 (Babar Azam 54, Saud Shakeel 53; Rehan Ahmed 5-48, Jack Leach 3-72) lead England 354 (Harry Brook 111, Be Foakes 64, Ollie Pope 51; Nauman Ali 4-126, Abrar Ahmed 4-150) & 112/2 (Ben Duckett 50*, Zak Crawley 41; Abrar Ahmed 2-43) by 54 runs

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