Recent Match Report – Pakistan vs England 3rd Test 2022/23

Recent Match Report – Pakistan vs England 3rd Test 2022/23

England 7 for 1 route Pakistan 304 (Babar 78, Salman 56, Leach 4–140) with 297 runs

Pakistan’s batters sowed the seeds of their own doom on the first day of the dead rubber Test in Karachi, when England bowed them out for 304 on a dry, harmless national stadium pitch after being asked to bowl first.

Babar Azam and Salman Ali Agha both made half centuries, but Pakistan cheaply threw away three wickets. Mohammad Rizwan was the first culprit, heaving Joe Root straight into deep Midwicket before the tee. In the evening’s session, Babar was knocked out when he stormed through the house for a single; Nauman Ali, the left-arm spinner, slog-swept up center; and Salman, the last recognized batsman, was at a loss as he charged down the pitch to Jack Leach.

When Leach wiped his tail at 4 for 140, Pakistan was eliminated at 304. Despite losing to Zak Crawley by a duck, England were clearly the happier side given the pitch’s lifelessness overnight. There was just enough supply for their spinners to suggest that hitting last might prove a challenge, but the only balls that misbehaved were those that died from short length.

Leicestershire’s all-rounder Rehan Ahmed became the youngest man to play Test cricket for England at 18 years and 126 days, scoring twice on his debut after Saud Shakeel was caught on the short leg and Faheem Ashraf caught lbw. After a nervous start before lunch, he found his length in the second session and finished the day 2 for 89 in 22 overs.

Ahmed, who presented his Nasser Hussain cap while standing alongside his father Naeem in England’s huddle, threw five wicketless overs for 37 runs in the morning session and struggled to find good length as Babar and the recalled Azhar Ali countered positively hit him. But after lunch he found his groove.

Struck by his previous ball, a sharply twisted Googly that spun over the outside edge, Shakeel thrust forward and rammed a broken leg into his pad. The ball rose to the front short leg where Ollie Pope – back in the field when Ben Foakes returned to the England side – threw himself forward to make an excellent one-handed catch.

And in the evening session, Ahmed made Faheem his second Test victim. His Googly, which he used extensively throughout the day, reared up enough to hit the outside edge left-hander around the wicket, hitting him deep on the rear thigh pad. He became the first English legspinner since Ian Salisbury to win two wickets in his first innings as a Test cricketer, including against Pakistan at Lord’s 30 years ago.

England’s spinners rolled 56 of the 79 overs and Ben Stokes wasted no time in getting Leach in the game. He became the first England spinner to share new ball in the very first innings of a Test since Jack White in 1921, and struck early by pinning Abdullah Shafique on the front pad with a ball that slipped through.

Shan Masood, playing his first Test match since January 2021 after two seasons of prolific all-format runs in domestic cricket, was positive early on, putting his feet to work and hitting the ground twice for four in Leach’s first over, but fell for a 37 -Ball 30 after previously surviving a tight lbw scream on review while sweeping backwards. He was drawn to a short ball plan when Mark Wood slammed the ball onto the field at 90 mph/145 km/h, which he smacked down the back of the racquet at Leach with his long leg.

That brought Babar into play, who played positively alongside Azhar and returned at No. 3 in the final Test of his career. He was one of four men to join Masood, Nauman and debutant Mohammad Wasim while Mohammad Nawaz, Zahid Mahmood, Mohammad Ali and the injured Imam-ul-Haq faltered.

Azhar pulled Ahmed’s third ball through the midwicket for four when it fell short, the first of six limits conceded by the legspinner in his first spell. That included a thick outside edge for four from Babar, slamming down on a wide broken leg, but the rest was played with controlled aggression.

Ollie Robinson bowled just three overs in his first spell before leaving the field for nearly an hour with an upset stomach but returning just before lunch to make the crucial breakthrough. Azhar had found some rhythm after a slow start but down a long gloved ball down the side of his leg. Foakes, who had retreated behind the stumps after sitting out the first two Tests, took a superb dive catch deep to his left, which TV replays confirmed was a clean take.

Babar and Salman both played with positive intent, turning the shot and occasionally tucking away bad balls, but a series of random dismissals meant wickets fell regularly. Rizwan was the main culprit, charging down and heaving Root’s gentle lob right onto Stokes, but Babar is unlikely to think fondly of his dismissal.

After hitting half a century in the first innings in the third straight Test, Babar was a slow start from the non-forward end as Salman worked to the square leg. Harry Brooks’ shot was slightly erratic, but Foakes responded sharply, whipping off the stirrups with Babar just short of his ground.

As Leach rolled through the stern – Nauman was caught slog-sweeping, Salman was slapped on the outside edge and Abrar Ahmed was stunned by a beauty hitting the tip of his stump – England walked away, the light dying but plenty of time left was the day they have to face three overs.

Abrar hit the fifth ball of the innings and held Crawley ahead with a shallow broken leg, but Pope and Ben Duckett survived to the death. Pakistan checked the last ball of the day, an Abrar Googly which hit Duckett in the body as he came to sweep, but ball tracking technology confirmed it had landed outside of his stump leg.

Matt Roller is Associate Editor at ESPNcricinfo. @mroller98

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