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Pakistan spinner Abrar Ahmed picks 5/70 on debut to stymie England

The 24-year-old Ahmed, 5-70, had Zak Crawley clean bowled off his fifth ball in a test match and then successfully won lbw decisions against half-century maker Ben Duckett (63) and Joe Root (8) through television referrals.

Pakistan spinner Abrar Ahmed picked up five wickets against England in Multan. (AP)

Unheralded Pakistan spinner Abrar Ahmed picked up five wickets in a dream Test debut against England on Friday.

The 24-year-old Ahmed, 5-70, had Zak Crawley clean bowled off his fifth ball in a Test match and then successfully won lbw decisions against half-century maker Ben Duckett (63) and Joe Root (8) through television referrals.

Ahmed challenged England’s aggression through his variety of bowling on a wicket already offering plenty of spin as he dismissed Ollie Pope (60), caught while reverse sweeping and Harry Brook (8), who went for an extravagant attacking shot and was caught at long off.

England reached 180-5 in an extended 2-1/2 hour first session due to Friday prayers after Ben Stokes won his second successive toss and elected to bat on a wicket Pakistan has prepared in a hope to help its three spinners and level the three-match series.

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Stokes was unbeaten on 18 and Wills Jacks was yet to score his first runs at the break of the second Test.

Crawley and Duckett smashed centuries in England’s landmark 74-run victory in the first Test at Rawalpindi and they saw off Pakistan’s much weakened pace attack of Faheem Ashraf and Mohammad Ali on a dry Multan Cricket Stadium wicket with ease.

Ashraf and Ahmed were the two forced changes Pakistan had to make after fast bowlers Haris Rauf and Naseem Shah both were ruled out with injuries and the home team also dropped experienced No. 3 batter Azhar Ali because of lack of form and brought in allrounder Mohammad Nawaz.

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Crawley made 19 before Ahmed’s well flighted delivery jagged back into the righthander and knocked off the stumps when captain Babar Azam turned to his spinners in the ninth over.

Pope, one of the four century-makers at Rawalpindi, and Duckett both successfully overturned on-field umpires’ lbw decisions against them and added a brisk 79 off 61 balls as they didn’t fear to reverse sweep both spinners Zahid Mahmood and Ahmed.

Duckett completed his half century off 40 balls before Ahmed struck had the lefthander trapped leg before wicket and then Root was trapped lbw on the backfoot to Ahmed’s sharp turner.

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England didn’t slow down and its fearless approach to score at a rapid pace cost them when Pope was caught at point while going for a reverse sweep and Brook gave a skied shot to Nawaz against Ahmed.

Fast bowler Mark Wood was the only change in England’s playing XI from the first Test at Rawalpindi where the visitors made a world-record 506-4 on the first day.

Wood, playing his first Test since March, replaced injured Liam Livingstone after the allrounder flew back home after injuring his knee during the first Test.

First published on: 09-12-2022 at 14:07 IST
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