Spinners Jack Leach and teenager Rehan Ahmed shared six wickets between them as England dismissed Pakistan for 304 on the opening day of the third and final Test in Karachi.
Leach took 4-140 and Ahmed finished with 2-89 as Pakistan’s batsmen spoiled good starts after Babar Azam won the toss and batted on the revolving pitch of the National Stadium on Saturday.
But England also fell victim to spin as enigmatic tweaker Abrar Ahmed trapped Zak Crawley without scoring before the visitors closed the day on 1-7.
Ben Duckett and Ollie Pope were at the crease with 4 and 3 as England were bowled out for 297 runs.
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England lead the three-match series 2-0 after winning the first Test by 74 runs in Rawalpindi and the second in Multan by 26 runs.
Captain Azam top-scored for Pakistan with 78 before being run out in the match after tea, while Agha Salman scored 56.
But the start of the day belonged to Ahmed – who at 18 years and 126 days became the youngest England player to start a Test – when he dismissed Saud Shakeel for 23 in his seventh match.
Before Ahmed, Brian Close was the youngest England debutant at the age of 18 years and 149 days when he played against New Zealand in 1949.
Leach then joined the act, breaking a stubborn eighth wicket stand of 48 between Salman and Nauman Ali (20).
Ahmed, who was presented with a Test cap by former England captain Nasser Hussain in front of his Pakistani father Naeem, described the scene as “the best moment”.
“It’s great to be a part of it. I believe in myself and try to do my best when given the opportunity,” he said.
“The England players supported me all day and I couldn’t have asked for more. Playing at such a young age is a blessing. It’s the best feeling in my life.”
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Pakistan head coach Saqlain Mushtaq, who was also a great all-rounder in his time, was all praise for the youngster.
“It was a very impressive performance considering it was his first game. He is a young guy and has a lot of potential and looks like a very good prospect for the England team.” Saqlain thought his team was 60-70 runs behind.
“It’s not a bad total, some 60-70 would be better but we have to play disciplined cricket to restrict them because I think the pitch is going to get slower every day.”
In the forenoon, Pakistan lost Abdullah Shafique (8), Shan Masood (30) and Azhar Ali (40) before Azam and Shakeel looked set to level the innings with 45 runs for the fourth wicket.
But Ahmed caught Shakeel with a defensive shot at short leg before Azam was ruled out by keeper Ben Foakes after a lengthy review.
Azam, who hit nine boundaries, also added 71 for the third wicket with Azhar.
Playing his last Test, Azhar fell with the stroke of lunch when he took a gloved catch to a diving Foakes off pacer Ollie Robinson.
Sensing that the pitch was about to spin, England launched an attack with Leach trapping Shafique leg in the sixth over of the day.
Leach became the first spinner to open the attack in a Test for England in 101 years – Jack White did the same against Australia in Leeds in 1921.
Masood fell into the short-bowling trap when he pulled fast bowler Mark Wood straight into the hands of deep fine-leg fielder Leach.
Masood hit five boundaries while Azhar had six hits in the ropes. Under pressure to avoid their first ever 3-0 home whitewash, Pakistan made four changes to their second Test squad, while England made two changes as they brought in Foakes and Ahmed.
Originally published as Jack Leach and Rehan Ahmed September on the opening day of Pakistan’s third Test in England
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