|Third Test, Karachi (day three of five)|
|Pakistan 304 (Babar 78) & 216 (Ahmed 5-48)|
|England 354 (Brook 111, Foakes 64) & 112-2 (Duckett 50)|
|England need another 55 runs to win|
Rehan Ahmed’s stunning five-wicket haul left England on the verge of victory in the third Test against Pakistan and a historic clean sweep.
Ahmed, making his debut as the youngest man to play a Test for England, ripped through the home batting on the third day in Karachi.
At 18 years and 128 days, his 5-48 made him the youngest man to take a five-wicket haul on Test debut. He was the architect of a Pakistan collapse of seven wickets for 52 runs.
Jack Leach had earlier raised the prospect of a three-day finish with three wickets in the first hour, only for half-centuries from Babar Azam and Saud Shakeel to delay England.
But Ahmed, held back until the 42nd over of the day, had Babar caught at mid-wicket to send Pakistan tumbling to 216 all out.
Even with only a maximum of 22 overs left in the day, England sprinted after their target of 167 – openers Zak Crawley and Ben Duckett added 87 in 11.3 overs before Crawley fell for 41.
Sensationally, Ahmed appeared at number three and smashed his first ball for four, only to be bowled swiping at Abrar Ahmed for 10.
Even then, captain Ben Stokes promoted himself to number four, but the nightfall left the Tourists 55 runs short on 112-2, with Duckett unbeaten on 50.
One more stunning day in a memorable series
This series had already produced riveting finishes in each of England’s wins in the first two Tests and this third day in Karachi is another that will live long in the memory.
Though this third Test will prove to be more one-sided than the first two, it could yet be the most significant if it turns out to be the start of a long and successful career for Ahmed.
His spell either side of tea was beguiling and thrilling, the arrival of an incredibly exciting talent at the highest level of the game.
As he led England from the field as the youngest leg-spinner to take a five-wicket haul in a men’s Test, thoughts turned to whether the tourists would be audacious enough to attempt to complete the chase before the day was done.
The answer came quickly, England looking for another landmark win in fading light, 22 years on from doing the same in near-darkness at this ground.
The sight of Ahmed, then Stokes, appearing after promotions up the order was pure theatre, but England were ultimately made to wait to become the first visiting team to take a 3-0 series win in this country.
Until Ahmed came into the attack more than an hour into the afternoon session, England were facing the prospect of a long day and tough chase. Babar and Shakeel were set, the pitch fell asleep and the lead was at 114.
In an unchanged spell of 12.5 overs, the teenager produced a mesmerizing display in only his fourth first-class match.
There was a huge element of fortune in his first wicket – the stunned Babar pulled an awful long-hop to mid-wicket, where Ollie Pope took a sharp reaction catch.
Ahmed grew in confidence, bounding in, landing dipping leg-breaks and dangerous googlies. Mohammad Rizwan edged behind and Shakeel top-edged a sweep to give Ahmed three wickets for nine runs in the space of 17 balls.
In between Joe Root having Faheem Ashraf caught at slip and Mark Wood pinning Nauman Ali leg before, Ahmed enticed Mohammed Wasim to miscue to mid-off.
When Salman Agha swept to short fine leg to give Ahmed his fifth, the teenager kissed the turf then led England from the field to the acclaim of the traveling fans, including his tearful father Naeem.
England denied by the light
Ahmed’s burst was not the only explosive spell by an England spinner – it was Leach who set the tourists on their way with his morning burst.
After Pakistan resumed on 21-0, 29 behind, left-armer Leach ripped through the top order with three wickets for no runs in the space of six deliveries.
Shan Masood was bowled reverse-sweeping, Azhar Ali was bowled for a duck in his last Test innings and Abdullah Shafique was trapped lbw.
Babar and Shakeel patiently restored order, only for the Pakistan implosion to kick start England’s chase.
Crawley and Duckett tucked in as spinners Abrar and Nauman opened the bowling, Pakistan only slowing the scoring rate by turning to pace and using optimistic reviews.
After Crawley was leg before sweeping Abrar and Ahmed’s cameo, Stokes swung so hard his bat flew to square leg and Duckett completed a 38-ball half-century.
In another part of the world there could have been the opportunity to add half an hour to the end of the day in order to complete the result, but the rapid sunset prevented the extra time.
‘The best day of my life’ – reaction
England spinner Rehan Ahmed, speaking to BBC Sport: “It was probably the best day of my life again. To get a five-for-on debut is a dream come true. It is great.
“I have bowled better balls and not got wickets. To get Babar Azam out is a dream come true. He is a very good player.
“I liked the Rizwan wicket because I have been working hard on my leg-spin for the last two months with bowling coach Jeetan Patel. To get one to spin a little bit was great.”
Pakistan batter Azhar Ali, speaking to Sky Sports: I was more emotional in the first innings than the second. I was quite calm but I am a human being and was feeling some emotions.
“I played the wrong line and Leachy, my old Somerset team-mate, got me out. I’ve faced him a lot in the nets. It was my time to say goodbye.”
Former England spinner Vic Marks on Test Match Special: “I thought it would be much harder for England but they got the wickets in batches. There were moments this morning where it looked really quiet but then they got the three wickets.
“Rizwan, we know he’s dangerous, his dismissal was the one that excites you about Ahmed.”