The 28-year-old was named player of the match on Sunday following his impressive figures of 4-23 and 4-41 in the first Test but was frustrated he could not add to that total at the ‘Home of Cricket’.
“I’m very happy. It’s my first match at Lord’s and to get the Player of the Match award is great,” he was quoted as saying on the ICC website, who is now in the top 20 Test bowlers.
“But my aim was to pick up five wickets and get my name in the Honours Board. It didn’t happen in either innings. But by the grace of Allah, I did get eight wickets. It was the first time I played in front of such a big crowd, and I enjoyed myself a lot.”
Among his victims were the crucial wickets of former captain Alastair Cook and current skipper Root, who both fell in the second innings after Pakistan had taken a 179-run lead.
“The wickets of Alastair Cook and Joe Root made me very happy,” he said. “I had it in my mind that in this series I wanted to get the big players out, that’s always my aim. I’m glad I was successful in that.”
Although he was playing at Lord’s for the first time, Abbas was no stranger to English conditions having had a stint with Leicestershire in April. He said that was crucial preparations for the Test series.
“I have to thank the PCB [Pakistan Cricket Board] and the team management for giving me the permission to come and play for Leicestershire before the series. I trained at Leicester, and there’s a slope there too, like most other grounds here. You have to adjust.”
As well as working with head coach Mickey Arthur, Abbas has also been picking the brains of former Pakistan bowler Azhar Mahmood.
Mahmood, who lives in the UK, is now the bowling coach of the Champions Trophy winners and says his knowledge has been crucial for his development.
“Azhar bhai treats us like younger brothers. He keeps things cheerful and lively, and that’s a big plus,” said Abbas. “Even when he was in Pakistan, I used to stay in touch with him over WhatsApp and ask him questions. That has helped a lot, and now I have performed in Malahide [4/44 and 5/66 in the Test against Ireland] and here.”
Speaking on who his role models are, the Sialkot man identified Mohammad Asif, who was banned for his spot-fixing scandal in 2010, and Australian legend Glen McGrath.
“My idols are Asif bhai and Glenn McGrath. I try to bowl like them, and I watch their bowling. I have played with Asif bhai too, in domestic cricket for Sialkot. I have spoken to him a lot. I try to bowl line and length like he does. I have also consulted him on my grips,” said Abbas.
“I have watched a lot of his [McGrath’s] videos. He has bowled so much, so many long spells, and I have followed those videos. I have bowled many long spells in domestic cricket, and whether as a batsman or as a bowler, when you play a lot, you know what your strengths are. You know what you have, and that has given me success.”
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