Pakistan spinner Abdur Rehman retires on 99 Test wickets

Waseem Ahmed 10/10/2018
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Pakistan left-arm spinner Abdur Rehman.

Pakistan left-arm spinner Abdur Rehman announced his retirement from international cricket on Wednesday.

The left-arm spinner is best known for his sensational 2012 Test series in the UAE against England when Pakistan blanked the then world No1 team 3-0. He took 19 wickets in three Tests at an average of 16, decimating England alongside off-spinner Saeed Ajmal.

Rehman also played in the 2010 World T20 and the 2011 World Cup. And as he signed off from international cricket, Rehman said the only regret he has is of not having 100 Test wickets; he has 99 from 22 matches.

“I had a memorable career. Allah gave me an opportunity. I had a great partnership with Saeed Ajmal. I can’t forget the England series in which we clean swept them. I have played World Cup and World T20, so very grateful,” Rehman, who last played Test cricket in 2014, said in a video statement.

“The only pain I have is… if I had 100 Test wickets, I would have been ecstatic. Still 99 wickets in 22 Tests, very few left-arm spinners have that record.” Rehman will continue to play domestic cricket.

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Pakistan v Australia first Test day three report card - Bilal Asif destroys Aussies

Alex Broun 9/10/2018
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Bilal Asif - Destroyer of Australia

Pakistan took complete control of the first Test in Dubai on Tuesday by rolling Australia for just 202, giving them a lead of 280 on the first innings.

The hosts opted not to enforce the follow on and at stumps were 45 for three wickets, with Aussie spinners Jon Holland taking two wickets and Nathan Lyon another, for an overall lead of 325.

It all started so well for the tourists on day three. After a strong morning session they cruised to 137 without loss at lunch but Pakistan hit back in the afternoon to wreak havoc on the Aussies’ batting line-up as they lost all 10 wickets for just 60 runs.

Debutant Bilal Asif was the chief destroyer, taking a stunning six for 36 off 21.3 overs, including dismissing two of Australia’s three debutants – Travis Head and Marnus Labuschagne – both in the same over and both without scoring.

Australia will be batting for survival at some point on day four but the way the Aussie bats performed on their first trip to the crease, everything points to a Pakistan victory to put the hosts 1-0 up in the series heading to Abu Dhabi.

THE GOOD

Bilal Asif – Everyone was asking “Yasir Shah who?” after the debutant tormented Australia’s batting line-up, taking six wickets including five of the top seven. Meanwhile the much-feared Yasir went wicket-less with the far from impressive figures of 80-0 off 28 overs. But Asif used his height superbly to drop his off-spinners on a good length and let the pitch and poor Aussie batting do the rest. Everyone will now be asking a different question – why has it taken Asif 33 years to make his Test debut?

Aussie openers – It was all going so well in the morning session for the tourists with Usman Khawaja and Aaron Finch relatively untroubled by Pakistan’s pace and spin. Finch moved smoothly to his maiden Test fifty while Khawaja, apart from a few risky reverse sweeps, looked very comfortable as he passed 60. Everything changed after Finch failed to keep an on-drive down on 62, sparking a stunning Aussie collapse.

THE BAD

Poor Australian shot selection – Australia were in command at lunch sitting on 142-0 and Pakistan looking deflated, but then poor shots from Aaron Finch and Shaun Marsh opened the door for the hosts. First Finch failed to keep an on-drive down and then Marsh went for a wild swoosh down the ground which saw him edge to slip. The momentum was back with the hosts.

Yasir Shah fails to live up to expectations – So much was expected of the leg-spinner leading up to the Test, with all Australia’s plans revolving around how to counter the tricky right-armer, who was the fifth fastest bowler in Test cricket to 100 wickets. But whether he is still struggling with injury or not Yasir failed to get any bounce or bite out of the pitch – unlike the superb Bilal Asif – and even dropped a straight forward return catch from Mitchell Marsh.

KEY MOMENTS

16.3: Missed stumping – Khawaja dances down the wicket and the ball spins past him down leg-side. He is way out of his ground but Sarfraz cannot gather the ball. Huge let-off for Australia.

33.1: Fifty for Finch – the opener brings up fifty in his debut Test with a lofted sweep through square leg. It also brings up the 100 for Australia without loss.

51.4: Shafiq takes a sharp catch to dismiss Finch – The Aussie opener will be kicking himself. Looking comfortable on 62, he fails to keep an on-drive down off Abbas and Shafiq, positioned at short mid-on, takes the catch. Threw away a maiden Test hundred.

62.1: Yasir drops Mitchell Marsh – with Australia on the ropes after losing three quick wickets. Shah drops a straight forward return catch from the Aussie vice-captain. The ball was moving, but not that fast, and should have been comfortably taken but Shah seemed to lose the flight of the ball.

65th over: Pakistan debutant destroys Aussie debutants – In one over Pakistan off-spinner Asif, in his maiden Test, turned the game on its head with the dismissal of two of Australia’s three debutants for ducks. Firstly Head went with hard hands at an off drive and edged to slip, and then Labuschagne prodded forward nervously and edged a bat-pad chance to short leg. It triggered the great Aussie collapse.

TACTICAL TURNING POINT

Pakistan change their attack

The Australians were cruising before lunch and looking well-set against the Pakistan spinners. But in the afternoon session the hosts made a clever switch, bringing on the fast bowlers to attack what they saw was a weakness around the pads of Finch and Khawaja. It worked perfectly, with first Pakistan slowing the run-rate, and then finally getting Finch to play a loose shot. The opener’s avoidable dismissal changed the game with Pakistan taking the remaining nine wickets for just 60 runs.

VERDICT

Pakistan: A+

A superb day for the hosts. Outplayed in the morning, they changed tact in the afternoon session to get the initial breakthrough and then kept their foot on the throat of the Aussie bats, refusing to let them get back up off the canvas. A winning position.

Australia: C

Hopes were very high for the Aussies’ new-look team coming into the Test, but when the blowtorch was applied the men in Baggy Green wilted away. Khawaja and Finch had given them a great platform but the rest of the batsmen folded like a house of cards.

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Australia v Pakistan Test Diary: Mickey Arthur gets his revenge while Sarfraz gets 'schooled'

Alex Broun 9/10/2018
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Pakistan coach Mickey Arthur

A very happy Pakistan coach, the Aussies undone by an obscure DRS rule and Sarfraz Ahmed gets schooled. It’s all in our diary from day three of the First Test between Australia and Pakistan in Dubai.

Mickey’s revenge

Pakistan coach Mickey Arthur spent a short and unpleasant tenure as coach of Australia before being unceremoniously dumped in 2013 in favour of the recently departed Darren Lehmann.

During the day’s play the camera kept cutting to Arthur who was having a hard time containing his glee as the Australian wickets tumbled, at one stage losing seven for just 41 runs.

Much of the Australian collapse was credit to Arthur who applied the screws perfectly after lunch using accurate paceman Mohammad Abbas and Wahab Riaz, and a well set field, to first dry up the Australian scoring rate, which allowed Abbas to get the crucial breakthrough of Aaron Finch’s wicket.

Once the breakthrough was made, Bilal Asif was then brought on to cut a swathe through the Australian top order.

And Mickey was smiling all the way with a grin as big as a famous Disney character who shares his first name.

The "three-metre" rule in action

The “three-metre” rule in action

There’s a “three metre rule”?

A hot topic around the Test, especially with the Australian contingent, was the review of Haris Sohail’s LBW decision on Monday, when the Pakistan batsmen was on just 51.

Richard Illingworth was in the action again after turning down a big appeal Nathan Lyon against Sohail when he appeared be struck in front.

Tim Paine sent it upstairs and replays confirmed that the ball had hit Sohail in front and was going on to hit the stumps but according to “the three metre” rule, the umpire’s original decision stood.

The obscure “three metre rule” states however that if the batsmen is struck more than three wickets away from the stumps the decision cannot be overturned by DRS.

The Australians were not even aware of this rule as a confused Marnus Labuschagne admitted at the end of the day’s play.

But Aussie commentator Mark Waugh for one thought the rule was one that definitely needed to be looked at.

“As soon as you don’t play a shot I reckon you should be able to be given out on the DRS even if it’s outside the three metres,” said Waugh on Foxsports Australia.

“Fair enough if you play a shot, OK, I’ll happily live with that but if you don’t play a shot I reckon you should be given out otherwise you’ll have blokes running down the wicket and padding up to balls knowing they won’t be given out.

“It should be given out anyway.”

Richard Illingworth (right) is well known to Australia

Richard Illingworth (right) is well known to Australia

Pakistan captain gets “schooled”

The microscope was trained on the Australians in terms of behaviour coming into the Test but instead it was the hosts who were drawing the ire of the umpires on day three.

Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed was very unhappy with an unsuccessful review and let umpire, and former Abu Dhabi school teacher, Illingworth knows all about it.

Illingworth then returned fire displeased about the regular appearance on the field of Pakistan’s water bearers.

The two kept up a lively banter for the rest of the morning with shouting from both parties being clearly heard on the boundary ropes.

The Australians for their part have been well behaved apart from a few taunts which Haris Sohail said he heard, and ignored, during his maiden Test century on Monday.

And Illingworth is if course well known to the Australians as he was one of the umpires in Cape Town who uncovered “sand-paper” gate.

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