England complete historic series ‘sweep’ in Pakistan

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Relentless Poms power to eight-wicket win in final Test

England’s players pose for photograph with the trophy after winning the third Test and series against Pakistan, in Karachi, Pakistan. (AP)

KARACHI, Pakistan, Dec 20, (AP): Ben Stokes finished unbeaten as his relentless England lineup powered to an eight-wicket win in the third and final cricket Test on Tuesday to complete an historic series sweep in Pakistan. England started the day needing a further 55 runs for victory and reached 170-2 within 38 minutes to secure its second successive win with more than a day to spare in their first test tour to Pakistan in 17 years. It was Pakistan’s first ever 3-0 loss in a three-Test series on home soil. Pakistan fell for 216 against 18-year-old legspinner Rehan Ahmed (5-48) in the second innings, setting England a modest target of 167 for victory. Ben Duckett resumed Day 4 on 50 and remained unbeaten on 82 off 78 balls and skipper Stokes signed off his team’s dominant ‘Bazball’ brand of aggressive cricket by finishing 35 not out.

“The commitment and mindset have been top drawer,” Stokes said. “It comes down to belief that I have and the 10 other guys. That resonates around everyone, the confidence everyone has has given me so much confidence in myself too.” Pakistan spinner Abrar Ahmed could have finished the series with 18 wickets in two test matches, but Agha Salman couldn’t hold onto a difficult chance from Stoke at longon with England just 19 runs away from a memorable win. “Definitely disappointment as a team, we are not good enough to fight back,” Pakistan captain Babar Azam said.

“We were good in patches, but we lost back-to-back wickets in the first innings and that moment cost us.” England won the first Test on a fl at wicket in Rawalpindi by 74 runs in dimming light on the last day before recording a thrilling 26-run win at Multan on a slow turning track inside four days. Rehan Ahmed, on debut, conquered Pakistan’s batters in the team’s fortress – National Stadium – on Day 3 and England had motored to 112-2 in the final session through aggressive batting of Zak Crawley (41) and Duckett. “We’ve got a process we want to play but the challenge was the different pitches for every test,”

Stokes said. “We stuck to our gameplans and adapted really well, particularly with the ball. Whoever I threw it to they seemed to deliver.” It was a just a third loss for Pakistan at the National Stadium in 45 Test matches and first in 15 years. England were the first team to beat Pakistan there in a Test match in 2000 before South Africa won a Test match here seven years later. The 3-0 drubbing was also Pakistan’s fourth successive test loss at home after Australia beat them in the final test earlier this year to win the two-Test series 1-0. Pakistan were kept at bay throughout the last three weeks and unable to find the right combination to counter England’s aggressive gameplan, which began at home this summer and now has seen them winning nine of the last 10 Test matches.

England’s only loss in that period was against South Africa at Lord’s before the Proteas got beaten 2-1 in the series. England set the tone of a clean sweep in Pakistan when four of their batters smashed centuries on the opening day of the first Test and the visitors racked up world-record 506-4. Young Harry Brook filled perfectly in the shoes of injured Jonny Bairstow with three successive test centuries on tour and amassed 468 runs. “Every person has stood up at some point, but Harry Brook has been unbelievable for us,” Stokes said. “He’s set Pakistan on fire, the calmness and belief is high class.” Brook’s 111 at Karachi in the first innings fetched England a vital first innings lead of 50 runs before Pakistan capitulated against Ahmed’s legspin in the second innings. “Probably my best tour so far, to win 3-0 here, no-one’s done it before,” Brook said after being named both player of the match and player of the series.

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