Karachi — England beat Pakistan by eight wickets in the third and final Test in Karachi on Tuesday to sweep the series 3-0 and hand the Pakistanis their first home whitewash.
“It won’t really sink in until we get home or in the new year,” skipper Ben Stokes said after securing what was only England’s second series whitewash in the subcontinent, following a similar result in Sri Lanka in 2018.
Resuming on 112-2, England reached the modest 167-run target in just 38 minutes, with Ben Duckett and Stokes finishing unbeaten on 82 and 35 respectively.
England won the first Test in Rawalpindi by 74 runs and the second in Multan by 26 runs.
This was England’s first Test tour of Pakistan since 2005, having refused to tour the South Asian country in the years since because of security concerns.
Duckett cracked his 12th boundary off fast bowler Mohammad Wasim to seal the victory on the fourth day, with England finishing on 170-2.
Agha Salman dropped Stokes off spinner Abrar Ahmed on 22 and with just 19 needed for victory.
With nine wins in their past 10 matches, England have vindicated their newly adopted freewheeling approach to Test cricket dubbed “Bazball”, after the nickname of coach Brendon McCullum.
McCullum and Stokes took charge of a misfiring side in May that had won just one of their previous 17 Tests, including a 4-0 humiliation in the Ashes in Australia.
England played power-packed cricket right from the start of the Pakistan tour, smashing 506-4 in Rawalpindi to set a record for the most team runs on the opening day of a Test.
Four batters — Zak Crawley, Ollie Pope, Harry Brook and Duckett — scored hundreds that day, another record.
Stokes was also bold in his captaincy, setting a tantalising 343-run target for Pakistan in Rawalpindi and then setting unusual fields to get wickets.
Stuck to the task
Stokes praised England’s adaptability on slow pitches.
“We’ve got a process we want to play but the challenge was the different pitches for every Test,” he said
“I know it’s a cliched thing, but being out in the subcontinent is one of the hardest places to do it.”
Stokes said his bowlers stuck to the task well.
“We were particularly good with the ball,” he Stokes.
“Whoever I threw it to they seemed to deliver. The commitment and mindset has been top drawer.”
Stokes singled out Brook, the man of the match in Karachi and player of the series.
“Every person has stood up at some point, but Brook has been unbelievable for us. He’s set Pakistan on fire, the calmness and belief is high class.”
Brook finished with 468 runs that included three hundreds — the most in the series.
Stokes also had warm words for leg-spinner Rehan Ahmed, who at 18 years and 128 days became England’s youngest Test player and then the youngest in the world to take five wickets on debut.
“For an 18-year-old to come into his first Test match and have such a cricket-savvy brain — especially under Test-match pressure — was really good for us,” said Stokes.
Pakistan’s Babar Azam said he has no intention of giving up the captaincy despite overseeing the whitewash.
“Definitely, it’s a big disappointment as a team,” said Azam. “We are not good enough to fight back. We lost back-to-back wickets here, were good in patches only and that cost us.”
Asked it he would quit the captaincy to concentrate on batting, Azam told a news conference he still enjoyed the challenge.
“Captaincy is a matter of honour for me. I will do whatever best I can for my country and for myself,” he said.
Pakistan’s problems were compounded by injuries to their fast bowlers, with Shaheen Shah Afridi ruled out before the series with a knee injury.
Haris Rauf and Naseem Shah missed the last two Tests with fitness problems.
But Pakistan suffered major batting collapses, losing their last six wickets for 108 in the first innings in Karachi and seven for 52 in the second.
Tuesday’s defeat means it is also the first time Pakistan have lost four home Tests on the trot, having been beaten by Australia in Lahore in March.