Pakistan bat first: Rehan Ahmed debuts as Azhar Ali prepares to bow out

As Pakistan’s captain Babar Azam chose to bat first against England at Karachi’s National Stadium in an effort to prevent a series sweep, Azhar Ali, who is retiring, was called up for one more appearance in international cricket.

While Babar had been hesitant to confirm Azhar’s selection, he was confirmed as one of four players to come into the Pakistan team along with Shan Masood, Nauman Ali, and debutant Mohammad Wasim Jnr. Azhar, 37, stated on Friday that he will retire from Tests after this series.

Azhar gave Wasim, 21, his test cap after he had already participated in 26 T20 matches and eight ODIs. He and Faheen Ashraf are the only two seamers in the Pakistani team, and he has taken 20 wickets at a strike rate of 24.85 in his seven first-class games to far.

Babar defended his choice to bat first by noting that Imam-ul-Haq was unfit to participate after suffering a hamstring injury in the second Test in Multan and that the surface appeared dry on the first morning. The three players omitted were Mohammad Nawaz, Zahid Mahmood, and Mohammad Ali.

Rehan Ahmed, a legspinning all-arounder for Leicestershire, became the youngest player to play Test cricket at the age of 18 years and 126 days, as England had previously announced their two alterations. His father Naeem Ahmed, who was raised in Pakistan, joined the England huddle to watch the ceremony when Nasser Hussain handed him his cap.

The Karachi Test will be Ahmed’s fourth first-class game overall following three outings in the County Championship this summer, breaking the record established by Brian Close in 1949. He is a direct replacement for Will Jacks and is carded to bat at No. 8; James Anderson is rested, therefore Ben Foakes is back in to maintain wicket.

Ben Stokes, who didn’t bowl a ball in England’s victory in Multan, will play a greater role with the ball as a result of the shift in balance. I suppose I’m going to have to [bowl more] with three seamers this week, he said during the toss.

Stokes said, “We would have batted.” “Looking at the wicket, I realised that I didn’t really care whether I won or lost the toss. The method and the way we want to play are the most significant and vital factors, even though we would love to win this game and depart with a 3-0 victory.”

1 Abdullah Shafique
2 Shan Masood
3 Azhar Ali
4 Babar Azam (capt)
5 Mohammad Rizwan (wk)
6 Salman Ali Agha
7 Saud Shakeel
8 Faheem Ashraf
9 Nauman Ali
10 Mohammad Wasim Jnr
11 Abrar Ahmed

1 Zak Crawley
2 Ben Duckett
3 Ollie Pope
4 Joe Root (capt)
5 Harry Brook
6 Ben Stokes
7 Ben Foakes (wk)
8 Rehan Ahmed
9 Ollie Robinson
10 Jack Leach
11 Mark Wood

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