England beat the setting sun to secure stunning first Test win over Pakistan

Jimmy Anderson and Ollie Robinson take four wickets apiece to secure 74-run victory

Day 5 of 5: England 657 (H Brook 153, Z Crawley 122, O Pope 108, B Duckett 107; Z Mahmood 4-235) & 264-7 dec (H Brook 87, J Root 73, Z Crawley 50) beat Pakistan 579 (B Azam 136, I ul Haq 121, A Shafique 114, A Salman 53; W Jacks 6-161) & 268 (S Shakeel 76; J Anderson 4-36, O Robinson 4-50) by 74 runs

Twenty-two years on from England’s miracle in the dark in Karachi came another famous win that beat the setting sun by a matter of minutes. After batting like the clappers all Test match and inviting Pakistan to chase a sporting target of 343 from four sessions on the torpid pitch of Rawalpindi, Ben Stokes and his tourists skittled their hosts for 268 for a 1-0 series lead.

It followed a truly memorable final session when England took the final five wickets for 11 runs in 19.3 nail-biting overs. Jimmy Anderson claimed figures of four for 36 from 24 overs, Ollie Robinson four for 50 from 22 and Jack Leach delivered the coup de grace when he got the delayed second new ball to pin tailender Naseem Shah lbw and spark wild celebrations.

Robinson was the bowler to light the touchpaper for this thrilling victory charge after the tea interval, getting the old ball to reverse and knocking over the last two recognised batsmen, Azhar Ali and Agha Salman, almost immediately. The lock picked, Anderson then simply barged through the door, vapourising Zahid Mahmood and Haris Rauf in the space of three balls.


But as the winter sun began its descent, resistance formed and the tension grew. The final pairing of Naseem and Mohammad Ali negotiated 30 minutes of England going hammer and tong, the former handed a life in the gloaming as an edge off Stokes flew between keeper Ollie Pope and first slip Joe Root.

It would have been cruel on Pope had this proved decisive after 251 gruelling overs as a stand-in. Instead, the 24-year-old, one of four centurions in England’s blitz to 657 in the first innings, could look back on a leading role in a victory that sees England 1-0 up heading into Friday’s second Test in Multan.

This was a wonderfully teeming fifth day of Test cricket set up by England’s bold declaration 24 hours earlier. The crowd built up across the three sessions as the tension grew, these two contrasting teams by way of approach rewarding their interest and the pendulum swinging one way and then the other.

Not that it was certain Pakistan had ambitions for the chase initially, the hosts resuming on 80 for two from 20 chiselled out 13 runs before the first drinks break as Anderson and Robinson began their day of toil. It says plenty about the mentality shift Stokes has managed to bring that a pitch that might have been disheartening kryptonite to English fast-mediums in the past was approached with boundless optimism.

The initial incision came from arguably the worst ball the largely immaculate Anderson sent down all morning, Imam-ul-Haq strangled down leg to leave the hosts 89 for three and push the opener’s average on this ground down to a mere 145. That said, 18 dot balls in the lead up was not insignificant.

But Mohammad Rizwan joined Saud Shakeel and they upped the ante when the seamers were eventually sent off to graze and targeting England’s trio of spinners to reach 169 for three at lunch, just shy of halfway to the target. Liam Livingstone was once again missing, his tour officially over after scans revealed cartilage damage to the knee he injured on day two.

The contrasting fortunes of spin and seam informed England’s approach during an arm-wrestle of an afternoon, Stokes grabbing the ball after the break and sending down 11 straight overs of his brawny heft from the Pavilion End while rotating Robinson and Anderson at the other. It was the type of self-flagellating spell the England captain gets off on and none for 44 did not reflect the effort.

Two precious breakthroughs did come, however. Anderson induced a feather behind off Rizwan on 46 four overs after lunch with a ball that surprisingly nipped off the seam and Robinson profited from a rare lapse in concentration from Shakeel, the compact left-hander clothing to a diving Keaton Jennings at catching cover on 76 – redemption for the tough chance England’s sub fielder had grassed the evening before.

At the other end was Azhar, resuming his innings after retiring the night before with a busted finger. The 37-year-old was impressively gutsy, recoiling upon impact as England’s seamers pounded away but managing to graft his side to 257 for five at tea alongside the only other remaining batter in Salman.

The target now under 100, the crowd was starting to believe and not least when just before the break Salman successively overturned an lbw when struck in front by Jack Leach and Azhar saw a chance down leg put down by Pope. The Hawk-Eye projection for the former surprisingly suggested the ball was going over and England could scarcely believe the ball would bounce so high on this pitch.

Technology cares little for human bias, however. As they basked in the afterglow of a famous win set up by their rapid-fire batting in both innings, the derring-do of their captain and an indefatigable bowling performance from their seamers, it had become a mere footnote in an all-time classic. – Guardian