Teenager Rehan Ahmed takes two wickets as England bowl out Pakistan | Pakistan v England 2022

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The opening day of this series finale in the city of lights was another fast forward affair and one to savour for the travelling England supporters, their team chiselling out all 10 Pakistan wickets on a slow, low pitch. Among them was a pair of wickets to savour for young Rehan Ahmed.

It started with a kiss, Ahmed embraced by his doting father, Naeem, after receiving his cap in the huddle at the tender age of 18 years and 126 days. And it ended with his teammates abuzz at his success, England’s youngest men’s Test cricketer – a leg-spinner whose career has risen this year like one of the kites overhead in Karachi – claiming figures of two for 89 from 22 overs on debut.

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It wasn’t just the wickets column that felt so uplifting, rather the manner in which it came about. Once Ahmed put an understandably tentative initial spell of five overs none for 37 out of his system, he grew in confidence, producing a mix dip and fizz to finish the headline act of a day that saw Pakistan bowled out for 304 in 79 overs and England reach seven for one from three before sunset.

The first was a vital breakthrough in the circumstances. Saud Shakeel was rebuilding alongside Babar Azam in the afternoon, guiding Pakistan to an ominous 162 for three in the 42nd over and displaying the kind of resolve that has made the left-hander a hardy perennial all series. Ben Stokes, again a tinker man all day, turned to Ahmed in search of inspiration.

What followed met the captain’s brief, Ahmed first beating Shakheel’s outside edge with a ripping googly and then, with the follow-up, locating the exact same length with a leg-break that dropped, tickled the inside edge, ballooned off the pad and produced a wonderful diving catch from Ollie Pope at short leg.

This proved the catalyst for Pakistan losing their last seven wickets for just 142 runs, Ahmed striking after tea when Faheem Ashraf, another left-hander, was trapped lbw by a delicious googly. The hosts had already lost Babar, needlessly run out for 78, and seen Mohammad Rizwan’s underwhelming series roll on when he charged Joe Root, met a full toss and stuck it down Stokes’s throat at mid-wicket.

The Pakistan captain, Babar Azam, walks off the pitch after being run out for 78
The Pakistan captain, Babar Azam, walks off the pitch after being run out for 78. Photograph: Fareed Khan/AP

It may be that runs on the board first-up prove match-winning, of course, as was the case for England in Multan. And certainly the removal of Zak Crawley, lbw fifth ball to a fine slider from Abrar Ahmed, had Pakistan bouncing before the close. Yet the hosts, bidding for a consolation victory at the end of a series already lost, were still left to rue a number of their dismissals once Babar had won the toss.

Not that Stokes wasn’t again enterprising, such as asking Leach to be the first England spinner to open the bowling on day one of a Test match for 101 years – Somerset’s Jack White, in 1921, the last – and seeing this rewarded with the early removal of Abdullah Shafique lbw en route to figures of four for 140 from 31 overs.

It was just that with England’s attacking being down a seamer on the previous two Tests – Jimmy Anderson resting up and Ben Foakes returning behind the stumps – Pakistan had a golden chance to correct some of the mistakes witnessed during their doomed chase in Multan and make best use of this surface. Instead, rather gallingly for Babar and his head coach, Saqlain Mushtaq, a couple of repeats came before lunch.

In both instances they came from recalled players. Shan Masood had looked sprightly first thing, lofting Leach for a couple of early boundaries. But on 30 the left-hander looked to take on a short ball from Mark Wood, only to send a top edge flying to Leach at fine leg. And on the stroke of lunch came another glance down leg, Ollie Robinson returning from a spell off the field with a stomach complaint and removing Azhar Ali.

Azhar, playing his final Test match before retirement, offered a near perfect replay of Shakeel’s demise last week here when fiddling to the wicketkeeper on 45. In this instance, however, the only doubt was in the mind of Joel Wilson, an on-field umpire in this match, who saw his soft signal of not out overturned by Marais Erasmus up in the booth once replays showed Foakes had held the ball cleanly.

A drinks carrier during the wins in Rawalpindi and Multan, Foakes had provided an immediate reminder of his precise glove work. This was something he went on to underline throughout a day where the ball skidded low from the seamers and was capped off when his tumbling take ran out Babar from Harry Brook’s lasered throw.

Foakes also pulled off a straightforward stumping as Leach hoovered up the last three wickets, Agha Salman’s battling 56 – one that saw him shrug off a nasty blow to the neck from the tireless Wood – ended when the left-arm spinner found some turn. This ball suggested Pakistan’s position was still healthy but Ahmed remained the story.

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