Rehan Ahmed received plenty of praise following his solid performance on Test debut against Pakistan, with Nasser Hussain labelling the occasion and Rehan’s success “a great moment for the young man and his family”.
The 18-year-old leg spinner came away with figures of 2-89 from his debut innings after England lost the toss and fielded in Karachi. After bowling an initial wicketless spell before lunch, Rehan claimed Saud Shakeel as his first victim, bowling him a sharply spinning googly before catching his inside edge with a leg spinner, Ollie Pope taking a superb diving catch at short leg. He followed up by dismissing Faheem Ashraf LBW, a googly straightening from round the wicket and hitting him plumb on the back leg.
After end of play, the teenage all-rounder told Michael Atherton on Sky Sports: “I think I rushed a little bit but it came out better than I expected it to to be fair. I know I got hit for a couple of boundaries but Stokesy was just like ‘I don’t care about the runs just get me a wicket.’ Second spell, I just went in and forgot about the runs I just wanted to take wickets and it happened.
“I was actually very nervous, I was very nervous but it was great, a great feeling … I just take everything for itself so I didn’t expect myself to play I just came (on the tour) to get better and they gave me a chance.”
On when he found out he would be making his Test match debut, Rehan said: “The day before. Stokes called me to his room with Baz and told me I was making my debut … I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t eat but yeah, it was a great day.”
Rehan is the youngest player ever for England in men’s Test matches, overtaking Brian Close. He made his First-class debut for Leicestershire last summer, playing three games for them, scoring his maiden hundred and taking his first County Championship five-for in their final match of the season. He also played five games for the Southern Brave during the Hundred as well as in the T20 Blast.
Speaking during their post-match analysis, Sky Sports pundits reacted to Rehan’s debut: “It’s awesome, isn’t it? He’s bowled two great wickets to get his first Test poles with as well. He started off a little bit nervous as you would expect, he’s not got a huge bank of experience behind him and there’s a lot of players who can start off a little bit wobbly in Test match cricket but I thought the way he was handled was great actually. After lunch get the ball back in his hands and give him the freedom to go again.
“It’s magical moments when you pick up any Test match wickets let alone your first and I think as the day went on he got better and better … What are some of the most exciting things in Test match cricket? High pace and leg spin. And that’s a really exciting day for English cricket.”
Mark Butcher said: “He (Stokes) didn’t hide him away after he bowled a few long hops and a few full tosses in the first outing at the crease. He just said ‘right, the two batters have got to start again, and we’ll give you the best chance to have a go at them when they’re just feeling their way in’. And from that moment on, really, the bad balls disappeared, didn’t they? I think that’s probably one of the most encouraging things. Not only was he able to show off the full array of his skills, and make that googly really turn, but the bad balls disappeared.”
Hussain presented Rehan his Test cap ahead of the Test match, with the latter’s father joining the England huddle for the special moment. “He had a massive smile on his face,” said Hussain. “Every wicket that Rehan got he was up jumping, he was looking at the DRS review in the huddle. All the players went up to him and shook his hand, it was a great moment to be honest a great moment for the young man. Rehan’s old man has come here and he’s seen his son get two wickets, so it was a lovely moment for the son, a lovely moment for the family.”
Finishing off the conversation, Atherton said: “I think the first thing you look for when somebody makes their debut, whether it’s 18 or a 30-year-old, you look for how did he take to it. Did they look overawed? Did they allow nerves get the better of them? I think we can all imagine what he was feeling at the end of his mark, his palms would have been sweaty, heart racing, butterflies in his tummy, but he quickly settled and got better throughout the day … I think he’s temperamentally sound.”
England bowled Pakistan out for 304 on the first day of the final Test of the three-match series, where they have taken an unassailable 2-0 lead. They finished the day on 7-1 having faced three overs before the end of play. After Abrar Ahmed trapped Zak Crawley leg-before for a duck, Ben Duckett and Ollie Pope saw out the rest of the evening.