Late-bloomer Mohammad Abbas turning into a world beater for Pakistan

Waseem Ahmed 22:34 17/10/2018
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Mohammad Abbas' meteoric rise in Tests continues.

In a Test series which was meant to be dominated by spinners, Pakistan seamer Mohammad Abbas has outshone every other bowler by a country mile with Australia’s batsmen struggling to tackle his accuracy.

The 28-year-old snared his third five-wicket haul in Test cricket on Wednesday as Australia were bundled out for just 145 in their first innings in the second Test between the two sides in Abu Dhabi.

Abbas’ 5-33 took his total wicket tally after 10 Tests to 54, which is the most by any Pakistan pacer in history at the same stage.

With the Test series moving towards its conclusion, the right-arm seamer’s tally of 12 wickets from three innings is three more than that of spinners Bilal Asif and Nathan Lyon who have picked up nine wickets each. The next best fast-bowler in the series is Australia’s Mitchell Starc who has picked up five wickets from three innings.

It has been a remarkable rise in the international circuit for the Pakistan man who only made his Test debut in April last year. A late bloomer, Abbas worked in a welding factory to support his family before becoming an office boy in court where he registered documents related to property cases.

He was then selected for a district U19 competition and has not looked back since. His talent was there for all to see during Pakistan’s tour of the West Indies last year where the Sialkot-born man picked up 15 wickets from the three Tests.

Despite Pakistan losing a Test series at their UAE ‘home’ for the first time ever in a 0-2 defeat to Sri Lanka, Abbas was one of the better bowlers in the series with eight wickets from the two matches.

The seamer prepared for Pakistan’s summer tours of Ireland and England this year by undertaking a maiden county stint with Leicestershire. Abbas grabbed eyeballs with 50 first-class wickets at an outstanding average of 17.72.

It came as no surprise then that Leicestershire opted to recall Abbas as their overseas player for the 2019 season. Abbas’ maiden county stint did him a world of good when Pakistan toured England in the summer with the seamer ending up as the man of the series which ended in a 1-1 draw.

Abbas bagged a total of 10 wickets in the two matches including four-wicket hauls in each innings of the Lord’s Test. Although a name on the prestigious Lord’s honours’ board eluded him, his display was enough for the cricketing world to acknowledge his talent.

Having conquered England with his seam and accuracy, the bowler is now showing that he has the skill-set to succeed in any conditions with his displays so far in the UAE against Australia.

Taking wickets on the dry and slow surfaces in the UAE is no mean feat for a fast bowler and the fact that the next best pacer has only five compared to Abbas’ 12 is a testament to his extraordinary abilities.

Capable of landing the ball on a dime throughout the day with subtle seam movements doing the rest, Abbas looks like he has been plying his trade in international cricket for many years.

A proper Test bowler who has managed to stay away from the lures of T20 cricket, Abbas is turning into a major force for Pakistan as he continues in the footsteps of the legendary Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis.

He has turned into an excellent find for Pakistan and looks set to carry the fast-bowling legacy of his country in Tests for the next five years at least. In him, Sarfraz Ahmed has at his disposal a bowler capable of delivering in any conditions.

A total of 54 wickets after 10 Tests with another innings to follow are remarkable numbers. Abbas’ average of 15.94 with the ball is the best by any fast bowler with a minimum of 50 wickets since 1896.

His Test debut might have come a few years too late but the quick-learner looks set to break many more records.

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