by Rex Clementine
Despite the first Test in Rawalpindi producing a result, the wicket for the game has come under the scanner as it favoured the batsmen heavily. The wicket for the second Test provided an even contest between bat and ball and it was Pakistan’s spinner Abrar Ahmed who was in the news after taking seven wickets on debut. Locals have always hailed Abrar as a bit of mystery spinner. But more than any mystery, he’s a leg-spin bowler who has some skill and plenty of variations; googlys, carrom balls and he experiments a lot with the grip. On a wicket where there is some purchase, Abrar can be quite handful. England struggled to read him although they tried to be aggressive earlier on. But soon the ploy backfired as he accounted for the first seven wickets. At one stage, with the tail to come he was tipped to take all ten wickets in the innings. Zaid Mahmood was too good a bowler not to make his presence felt and he claimed the last three wickets to fall. Such was Abrar’s impact, that Zaid was used sparingly, only 7.4 overs compared to Abrar’s 22 overs. After the run fest in the first Test, only two England batters scored half-centuries. Ben Duckett and Ollie Pope added 79 for the second wicket. All ten England wickets to fall went for the two leg-spinners. The seamers were unable to make any breakthroughs and so far in the series, England quicks have outperformed Pakistan fast bowlers. Shaheen Afridi has been badly missed. Not only his pace and control, but even his experience as Pakistan are relying on an inexperienced attack.
Despite the setback. Pakistan did well to bowl out England for less than 300. It could have been less than 250 but Mark Wood making his comeback smashed 36 off 27 balls with eight fours. He bowled only four overs in Pakistan’s first innings but it should be fun on day two when he generates more pace during a longer spell.
Pakistan have reached 107 for two and are still 174 behind. They will rely heavily on their skipper Babar Azam, who is unbeaten on 61 with nine fours and one six.