England pulled off one of their greatest victories with a 74-run win over Pakistan in the first Test in Rawalpindi.
With the sun dropping at the end of a tension-filled final day, England took the last wicket with only minutes of light remaining.
In scenes reminiscent of England’s famous victory in the dark in Karachi in 2000, Jack Leach trapped Naseem Shah lbw to leave Pakistan 268 all out, 75 short of their target of 343. That England were in a position to win was thanks to James Anderson and Ollie Robinson, who gave a masterful exhibition of reverse-swing bowling to claim four wickets each. Pakistan were defiant throughout. Saud Shakeel made 76, Mohammad Rizwan 46 and Azhar Ali 40. At 176-3 and 259-5, the home side were right in the hunt. But after Robinson removed Salman Agha and Azhar, England could only be defeated by the fading light.
With the stadium nearly full and the crowd engrossed, 40-year-old Anderson snared Zahid Mahmood and Haris Rauf in the same over.
Naseem and Mohammad Ali survived for nine overs, before Leach sent England into wild celebrations. There is only a three-day gap to the second Test in Multan on Friday, when England will have the chance to secure the series.
This is an England win that will be remembered for a long time, a fitting way to mark their first Test in Pakistan for 17 years. The drama of victory being secured late on the fifth day was entirely in keeping with the extraordinary action of the previous four days. England plundered 921 runs in 136.5 overs at a scoring rate of 6.73, the fastest of any team batting twice in Test history. The 506-4 runs they racked up on day one is a Test record.
Ben Stokes’ bold declaration at tea on Sunday engineered a contest that had all four results possible going into the final session of the match.
With darkness creeping in, England looked to have missed their chance when Naseem’s edge off Stokes sailed between wicketkeeper Ollie Pope and first slip Joe Root, only for Leach to provide the decisive intervention. BBC
England: 657 and 264/7 dec.
Pakistan: 579 and 268 (Imam-ul-Haq 48, Azhar Ali 40, Saud Shakeel 76, Mohammad Rizwan 46, Agha Salman 30, Ollie Robinson 4/50, James Anderson 4/36)