Rehan Ahmed, he put the game ahead with leaps and bounds

Today was drifting in Karachi. Certainly with Ben Stokes’ usual passing technique on the field.

Within nine overs of the third day of the Third Test, Jack Leach had taken his first three wickets in Pakistan’s second innings, all across the space of six overs from a left arm spin, with no runs whatsoever. The hosts were ahead, but only by four.

That would swell to 49 by lunch, and to 104 by fifty. By then, Babar Azam and Saud Shakeel, 45 and 47, respectively, had made a century stand between them. Leach had already completed a 16-over spell from the University Road end, with Mark Wood and Ollie Robinson marking in and out at the Pavilion End. Stokes, furious, had indulged in one of his eight-time self-flagellation spells on the bouncer with few notes after a few plays and missed. As we approach three hours into this situation with no danger preventing the odd part of the reverse swing causing no real problem right or left, the question got even higher. Where was?

You will know who “it” is if you follow this quiz. You will definitely know who it is if browsing has brought you to this page. Rehan Ahmed’s Test career is just three days old and England cricket is already mesmerized by the teenaged Legspinner who appears on the back of his first two Test wickets, a stately gaffe, beaming shoulders and a cheerful smile to make even the floodlights at the National Stadium redundant.

All of the above are reasons for both excitement and caution. Legais, by their very nature, are unknown quantities at the start of their travels, in part because the craft they need to tame is so wild. But on his fourth appearance in first-class cricket, as he became the youngest English player to make a Test debut – and thus the youngest player in the team – it was already felt that he had the explosives to blow this match wide open. Finally, in the 51st minute, Stokes handed the ball over to Rehaan. The rest, as on the first day, was historical.

After just 24 overs, Rehaan, at the age of 18 years and 128 days, became the youngest debutant in men’s Test history to take a five-wicket haul. Pakistan were bowled out for 216, giving England a target of 167 in a series sweep that now sees them needing just 55 when they resume on the fourth day, with eight wickets in hand they only had 17 before light took them to their stumps on Monday .

Rayhan was one of those two fallen hitters, introduced upon the sacking of Zack Crowley, as the first open vision of the Nighthawk role Stuart Broad was given over the summer but was unable to pitch. While Broad was sitting in Sky’s studio, the student walked out on opening night.

Rehan revealed the instructions, “Just try to finish it tonight.” “I think we would be if we had another seven times a day.” He jumped down and hit his first ball to the head of Abrar Ahmed for four. Was that instruction from Coach Brendon McCollum, to hit a big shot first? Rayhan replied, “I said so to myself, if anything.” He managed another boundary – breached through the cover – before Abrar threw it in an attempt to swish across the line.

Those who know Rehan talk about a cricketer whose default is to deliver the game quickly, and it seems that the career path is already tracking that fast. Patience was evident here, however, not least with the three-hour warm-up after only pitching twice the night before.

He started quietly, unfazed by the fact that he was up against the Babar and Shakil group, a fine and impressive debutant of generations, right and left, with an old ball and an unresponsive pitch for company. And then, he broke it with one of the worst balls he ever bowled.

He said it all that he described the first of the five gates as “sent from God.” Even an atheist might doubt their beliefs when Babar hit the long jump straight to Ollie Pop in Midweek. A wicket is a wicket, as Rayhan was keen to stress. And the joy, whether it was the joy of him or that of his colleagues, was proof of that.

Three times later, Muhammad Ridwan joined Babar in the Rayhan enclave. A clever leg stroke lured the batter forward before he dipped shorter than he had expected and bowled wider than he had calculated. Ben Foakes took the edge with minimal fuss.

Rayhan explained: “I loved Naseeb Radwan, because I have been working hard on my legs for the past two months with Gitan. [Patel, England’s spin-bowling coach]. So to have one spin a little bit in the other side, that was cool.”

When it all first began, after a brief dalliance of trying to emulate his father, Naeem, as a fast bowler, Rehaan finds himself only able to bowl at the wrong things instead of the arrow game. And even if we’re still closer to the start, when your googly is far away, why not a traditional delivery for a change.

You could argue that Shakeel wasn’t quite sure what he was getting into when he decided to sweep around the corner. A little extra bounce brought the top edge to a run at the square leg. Just like that, a trio of leading hitters drilled into the space of 17 balls from Basil. not since Home Alone He has a kid coming out of seasoned pros with such confidence at Christmas.

With tailgating now exposed, the only thing standing in the way of five-point hauls was teammates celebrating. Joe Root caught Faheem Ashraf just after tea, before Rayhan’s fourth came off Mohammed Wasim. The fifth was no hare, though: Agha Salman next to be done by hopping on a flat bat shot, caught by Harry Brooke with short leg.

Just like that, Saturday’s honor of being the happiest day of his life climbed to number two by Monday. “I still don’t think she’s soaked yet,” he said at his press conference. There is no doubt that by the time that happens, he will have already started thinking about the next one.

On confirming figures of 5 for 48, Rehan made a quick run prostrate – bowing to God – before jumping back up for another round of hugs from his teammates and then shoving them off. He hurled the ball up in the air between his feet to all corners of the floor, then waved his fists to his father and brother, Raheem, perched atop the vision screen who returned the nod tenfold.

He got back out just as quickly as he left to run Nighthawk’s duties, and he didn’t hang out in the middle. A second fast exit came, and this one was made even more irritating by his failure to make contact with a third four, before he passed into media duties and then out of our lives again. At least until next time.

Thanks to Rehan, England got dressed into the innings with typically snooty ambitions at the prospect of going home in the wee hours of Tuesday morning. Sadly, they’ll have to stay in Karachi and chip away at those remaining kicks for a 3-0 series win before they can look forward to any potential flights on Tuesday night.

As for the 18-year-old, the fourth day of his Test debut will be an impressive culmination of a year that began with him as an unknown group in England’s Under-19 World Cup squad. Now, everyone knows his name.

They say it’s important to give children enough time to work things out at their own pace. But Reyhan seems to be suffering from a lot already. It’s by no means the definitive article yet it really does offer a lot. Even in such a high-pressure environment, he has emerged as a key difference-maker for their full England team.

Vithushan Ehantharajah is Associate Editor for ESPNcricinfo

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