Jack Leach takes three quick wickets to leave England on top in the final Test against Pakistan… as Ben Stokes’s side push for a historic series whitewash in Karachi
- Jack Leach took three wickets in six balls to put England on top against Pakistan
- Babar Azam and Saud Shakeel managed to see Pakistan through until lunch
- England are still in a strong position as they look to wrap up a 3-0 series win
Three quick wickets for Jack Leach left England in a strong position on the third morning of the third and final Test against Pakistan – but they still have to get through Babar Azam before they can think seriously about a historic 3-0 whitewash.
Leach took three for none in six balls as Pakistan slipped from 53 without loss to 54 for three, a lead of just four. Babar and Saud Shakeel – Pakistan’s two leading run-scorers in this series – ensured no more damage before lunch, taken at 99 for three.
The lead is 49, and the game is nicely poised, though leaning towards England on a pitch that hasn’t turned quite as much as some deliveries on the first evening suggested it might. Shakeel has 28, Babar 13.
Jack Leach took three wickets before lunch to put England in a strong position in the third Test
Azhar Ali was dismissed for a duck in his final innings before he retires from Test cricket
Despite that, Leach was the star of the session, after Abdullah Shafique and in particular Shan Masood had begun brightly, taking 18 off Joe Root’s first two overs of the day.
From the second ball of Leach’s second over, the left-handed Masood – on 24 – aimed a reverse-sweep at a delivery turning into him, but succeeded only in bottom-edging the ball into his leg stump.
Out walked Azhar Ali for his final Test innings. He was greeted by handshakes from a few of England’s fielders, and might not quite have cleared his thoughts when he went down the pitch to his fourth ball and ended up yorking himself: b Leach 0 was no kind of fairytale conclusion.
Azhar shook English hands again, and was greeted on the boundary by a guard of honour from his team-mates. He retires with 7,142 Test runs at 42, and 19 centuries – making him one of the most significant Pakistani batsmen of all time. If there was a tear in his eye as he trudged off, no one could blame him.
Leach is congratulated by his team-mates after a fine morning session with the ball
Then, from the first ball of his next over, Leach pinned the right-handed Shafique leg-before, as he did in the first innings. Shafique reviewed, but it looked like three reds all the way, and so it proved.
Shakeel, surrounded by six close fielders, survived the hat-trick ball, and prospered in the company of Babar, who endured one or two hairy moments against Ollie Robinson, his tormentor at Multan.
Shortly before lunch, England wondered if Leach had taken a fourth, as he went up for lbw against Babar. Joel Wilson said not out, but ball-tracking had it both pitching in line and hitting the stumps. The problem was Babar had advanced more than three metres down the pitch, immediately taking him into umpire’s call territory under DRS regulations.
Still, this was Leach’s morning. If it turns into his afternoon, England will be eyeing up a four-day win.