Don’t rule it out…
24rd over: England 148-2 (Duckett 73, Stokes 22) England are easing towards a historic victory, Stokes and Duckett picking off the runs, less than twenty runs needed now to complete the victory and take the series 3-0. Remarkable when you see it written down like that.
23rd over: England 144-2 (Duckett 70, Stokes 21) Six more runs from off Wasim as Duckett drives powerfully down the ground. Stokes is happy to let his junior partner do the damage, he collects a couple.
22nd over: England 138-2 (Duckett 64, Stokes 21) Ben Duckett has come out of the traps incredibly quickly, peeling off two fours against Abrar. England making short work of this target.
Preamble – The Trip
Hello and welcome to the final knockings of this Karachi Test and what has been a hugely enjoyable (especially if you are an England player/supporter) Test series.
Last week I
overslept got my timings askew in the wee small hours and was twenty minutes late to fire up the OBO, fortunately nothing much was missed. Nevertheless, lesson well and truly learnt, I’m tapping this preamble out pre-pillow rather than post alarm and with good reason – England need the small matter of 55 runs to complete a historic 3-0 series victory and the way they approached the run chase last night – plundering 112 runs in 17 overs – suggests that they could well wrap this up in minutes rather than hours. In short – it isn’t one to press snooze too.
Yesterday was a memorable and poignant day, a case of saying ‘hello’ to Rehan Ahmed, England’s teenage leg-spinning sensation, who at 18 years and 128 days became the youngest men’s Test cricketer to pick up a five-wicket haul on debut. His five for 48 from just shy of fifteen overs tilted the game decisively towards Stokes’s side. Oh, and he even came out for a bat too. Course he did.
At the other end of the cricketing journey, it was time to say ‘goodbye’ to 37 year old Azhar Ali, a fine servant to Pakistani cricket over the past decade, Ali’s last appearance at the crease in Tests yielded zero runs but a guard of honour and a solitary tear. It might not have ended how he hoped but he can look back proudly on a stellar career, over 7,000 runs and 19 centuries will bring some succour.
Will England wrap this up before dawn over here in the UK? Will Pakistan pick up a flurry of wickets to set up a barnstorming finish? Will I even bother to shake off the duvet and feign some degree of professionalism? There’s only one way to find out. But first, to bed. For tonight we sleep the sleep of… err about four hours.
Play gets underway at 5am UK time (gulp)