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

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England 7 for 1 trail Pakistan 304 (Babar 78, Salman 56, Leach 4-140) by 297 runs

Pakistan’s batsmen sowed the seeds of their own demise on the first day of the dead-rubber third Test in Karachi as England bowled them out for 304 on a dry, soft National Stadium pitch after being asked to bowl first.

Babar Azam and Salman Ali Agha both scored half-centuries but Pakistan threw away three wickets cheaply. Mohammad Rizwan was the first offender, having Joe Root caught straight at deep midwicket before tea. In the evening session, Babar was run out while chasing a single; Left-arm spinner Nauman Ali slog-swept it towards mid-off; and Salman, the last recognized batsman, was stumped while charging Jack Leach onto the pitch.

As Leach took 4 for 140, Pakistan were bowled out for 304. Despite losing Zak Crawley for a duck, England were clearly the happier side overnight, given the lifelessness of the pitch. There was enough for their spinners to suggest that batting last might prove a challenge, but the only balls that misbehaved were those that fell short of a length.

Rayhan Ahmed, Leicestershire’s legspinning all-rounder, became the youngest man to play Test cricket for England at the age of 18 years and 126 days and hit twice on debut, having Saud Shakeel caught at short leg and Faheem Ashraf lbw Out After a nervous start before lunch, he found his length in the second session and ended the day with figures of 2 for 89 in 22 overs.

Ahmed, presented his cap by Nasser Hussain while standing next to his father Naeem in the England huddle, bowled five wicketless overs for 37 runs in the morning session, struggling to find a good length as Babar and Azhar Ali batted positively against him. But after lunch he found his rhythm.

Beaten by his previous ball, a fast-paced googly that went past the outside edge, Shakeel stepped forward and inside edged a legbreak into his pads. The ball further edged towards short leg where Ollie Pope – as Ben Foakes returned to the ground towards England – propelled himself forward to take 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, straightened enough to hit the outside edge to the left-handed batsman from around the wicket, hitting him low on the rear thigh pad. He became the first England legspinner since Ian Salisbury against Pakistan at Lord’s 30 years earlier to take two wickets in his first innings as a Test cricketer.

England’s spinners bowled 56 of the 79 overs and Ben Stokes wasted no time in bringing Leach into the game. He became the first England spinner since Jack White in 1921 to share the new ball in the first innings of a Test and was hit early, trapping Abdullah Shafiq on the front pad with a skidding ball.

Shan Masood, playing his first Test match since January 2021 after two seasons of prolific runs across all formats in domestic cricket, was positive in Leach’s first over using his legs and hitting him twice for fours, But fell for 30 off 37 balls, having survived a close lbw shout on review while reverse-sweeping the first. Mark Wood hit the ball at 90 mph/145 kph onto a pitch which he sucked up by a short-ball scheme, which he lofted through the back of the bat to Leach at long leg.

He brought Babar to the crease, who played positively alongside Azhar, brought back at No. 3 in the final Test of his career. He was one of four men to appear in the side along with Masood, Nauman and debutant Mohammad Wasim along with Mohammad Nawaz, Zahid Mahmood, Mohammad Ali and the injured Imam-ul-Haq.

Azhar pulled Ahmed’s third ball through midwicket for four as he fell short, the first of six fours conceded by the legspinner in his maiden spell. They included a thick outside edge for four from Babar, sliding over a wide legbreak, but the rest were played with controlled aggression.

Ollie Robinson bowled only three overs in his first spell and left the field for the best part of an hour due to a stomach upset, but returned shortly before lunch to make the crucial breakthrough. Azhar had found some rhythm after a slow start but gloved the back of a length ball down the leg side. After sitting out the first two Tests, Fox took an excellent diving catch to his left behind the stumps, which TV replays confirmed was a clean take.

Both Babar and Salman played with positive intent, rotating the strike and putting away the occasional bad ball, but a series of accidental dismissals meant wickets fell regularly. Rizwan was the main culprit, charging Root’s gentle lob straight to Stokes in the deep, but Babar is unlikely to consider his dismissal fondly.

After reaching a first-innings fifty in the third Test in a row, Babar made a slow start from the non-striker’s end as Salman worked his way to square leg. Harry Brook’s throw was slightly onside, but Fox reacted sharply and hit the bails just short of Babar’s ground.

When Leach rolled off the tail – Nauman caught slog-sweeping, Salman beaten while hitting the outside edge and Abrar Ahmed flared up with a beauty that clipped his off-stump – England departed with light fading but enough Time left for them to face three overs in the day.

Abrar trapped Crawley with a flat legbreak on the fifth ball of the innings, but Pope and Ben Duckett survived to stumps. Pakistan reviewed the final ball of the day, an Abrar googly that hit Duckett’s body while descending to sweep, but ball-tracking technology confirmed that it pitched outside his leg stump.

Matt Roller is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @mroller98

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