England have pulled off a stunning 74-run victory over Pakistan in their first Test in the country in 17 years, claiming the final wicket in rapidly fading light to take a 1-0 lead in the three-match series.
- England declared on 7-264, setting Pakistan a tempting target of 343 in four sessions
- The hosts were favoured to win at lunch with five wickets in hand and 86 needed at four an over
- But England took the last five wickets for 11 runs, bowling the hosts out for 268
The win has been hailed as one of England’s greatest ever.
Scoring at more than six an over in both innings, the tourists racked up 657 in their first dig and declared their second on 7-264, setting Pakistan a tempting victory target of 343 in four sessions on a docile track.
Pakistan, 2-80 overnight and 3-169 at lunch, looked favourites to win at tea on Monday, the fifth and final day. With five wickets in hand, they needed 86 at roughly four an over.
But England took the last five wickets for 11 runs, bowling the hosts out for 268 in a gripping final session watched by a near full house at Pindi Cricket Stadium.
Referring to the combination of captain Ben Stokes and coach Brendon McCullum, former Australian Test batter Mark Waugh tweeted: “McCullum/Stokes changing the way test cricket is to be played. Courageous, fearless positive mindset gets them a win in Rawalpindi on the most docile surface. I don’t think any other team in world cricket would have rolled the dice like that. Bring on the Ashes next year.”
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Pacers James Anderson (4-36) and Ollie Robinson (4-50) were England’s most successful bowlers while Ben Stokes marshalled his team expertly in the field.
Saud Shakeel top-scored for the hosts with 76, Mohammad Rizwan made 46 and Azhar Ali 40 with an injured finger.
Pakistan’s last pair of Naseem Shah and Mohammad Ali resisted for nearly nine overs before the former fell LBW to Jack Leach barely 10 minutes before the scheduled end of play.
After a tense wait for a DRS review, England celebrated with exhausted joy. There was less than 10 minutes of light left.
“A few days ago we were running around trying to start on time,” captain Stokes said, referring to a virus which affected several England players and ruled out wicketkeeper Ben Foakes.
“So credit to the group for coming here, turning up under the weather … What we’ve had to deal with coming in makes this win even better.
“I think it’s up there with one of England’s greatest away Test match wins. Jimmy Anderson said he was feeling very emotional trying to keep himself together.
“Having a bloke who’s played nearly 180 Test matches to feel like that at the end of this, I think we’ve achieved something very special this week.”
Nasser Hussain, who was captain the last time England won away to Pakistan, in Karachi in 2000, said: “I don’t think I’ve seen a better week of captaincy.”
“They needed to do everything right to go 1-0 up and they did. On the flattest of flat pitches, Pakistan played their part, but in the end England’s run-rate and heart just blew them away.”
“It has to be one of England’s finest ever Test match wins,” another former captain, Michael Atherton, said.
“I couldn’t think of another England side that would have won the game on this pitch.”
Meanwhile, Pakistan captain Babar Azam rued that his team were “not up to the mark”.
“We had a golden chance to win this Test, but session by session we kept losing wickets,” he said.
The second Test in Multan begins on Friday.