Sunday, February 5, 2023

Pakistan’s mystery bowler Abrar Ahmed takes seven-for against England

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MULTAN: Pakistan debutant Abrar Ahmed spun a spell over England Friday, grabbing seven wickets as the tourists were dismissed for 281 on the opening day of the second Test in Multan.

The 24-year-old — nicknamed “Harry Potter” by friends because he wears glasses similar to those of the fictional boy wizard — produced magic of his own to finish with 7-114.

 

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It was the second-best debut by a Pakistan bowler behind pacer Mohammad Zahid’s 7-66 against New Zealand in Rawalpindi in 1996.

Ben Duckett (63) and Ollie Pope (60) were the main run scorers in an England innings that finished at the stroke of tea, after skipper Ben Stokes won the toss and decided to bat.

 

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England, on their first tour of Pakistan since 2005, lead the three-match series 1-0 after winning the first Test in Rawalpindi by 74 runs.

Spinner Zahid Mahmood claimed the last three wickets to finish with 3-63.

Abrar Ahmed had taken all five England wickets at lunch with the score at 180-5, becoming only the second man to take five before lunch on the opening day on debut.

West Indian Alf Valentine achieved the feat against England at Manchester in his first Test in 1950.

Stokes (30) and Will Jacks (31) defied the all-spin assault after lunch for a 61-run sixth-wicket stand before Ahmed befuddled the England skipper with his mastery.

In the first session, Ahmed dismissed Zak Crawley (19), Duckett and Joe Root (eight), before sending Pope and Harry Brook (nine) on their way.

He is the 13th Pakistan bowler to take five or more wickets in an innings on debut.

Despite losing wickets regularly, England scored at a brisk pace, with Duckett knocking nine boundaries and a six, and Pope cracking five to the rope.

Pakistan captain Babar Azam employed spin as early as in the ninth over, and Ahmed bowled Crawley with a sharp incoming delivery with only his fifth Test ball.

He then trapped Duckett and Root leg-before — both given out only after Azam reviewed the on-field calls.

Abrar Ahmed made it 167-5 when Pope and Brook miscued aggressive shots and were caught.

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