IN this game of glorious uncertainties, the ongoing second Test has been turned on its head, mainly due to the sensational bowling display by wrist-spinner Yasir Shah who having weaved his web around the New Zealand batsmen has now put Pakistan on the path of a much-needed series-leveling victory in the three-Test series.
As it turned out, the third day’s play dramatically changed in favour of Pakistan as Yasir cast his magical spell on the visitors to end with a career best 8 for 41. That is what his figures tell you when you go through the scorecard but the real worth of it could be gauged from the way Yasir bowled to completely mesmerise the Kiwis and bowl them out for under three figure mark.
From 50 for none to 90 all out is some something out of the ordinary and it all started when Yasir got the ball in only the seventh over of the day to trigger the slide.
Let me assure you though this has nothing to do with the pitch or the nature of it which caused the Kiwis to collapse. It was, in fact, one of those bowling performances that belie all calculations and which in the end proves to be the deciding factor.
Yasir Shah is an amazing product of our much-maligned domestic cricket system which somehow continues to produce match-winners.
Making his debut for the country four years ago, Yasir has gone from strength to strength through his skills and have reached the pinnacle of the art of leg-spin for which great such as Abdul Qadir, Shane Warne and Anil Kumble are known for.
What also goes in praise of his skills is the fact that all his wickets have been taken on foreign soil and not at his home ground in Test cricket.
The adopted home of Pakistan cricket, UAE , however, is his favourite hunting ground where in 16 Tests he has taken over hundred wickets. His current tally in the 31 Tests he has played so far stands at a staggering 191 wickets.
Leg-spin is an art which requires not only variation of flight and spin but also a sharp mind to bring the batsmen’s downfall of the batsmen.
Overnight rain may have in some way have affected the behaviour of the pitch but it is to Yasir’s credit how he exploited the moisture on the wicket. But that does not in any manner take away the brilliance of Yasir’s control on the ball and his guile that bamboozled the Kiwis.
Bouncy and bubbly character like Qadir was in his heydays, Yasir turned out to be the bane of the visiting batsmen as he hopped and jumped and bowled with nagging accuracy to deceive them in the air and off the pitch to get the desired results.
On Monday, batsmen after batsmen faltered to his tempting deliveries which pitched, bounced and turned to do all the damage to the New Zealand side and has brought Pakistan very close to victory.
His ten wickets in a day of a Test — eight in the first innings and two in the second — makes him the first Pakistan bowler to achieve such a feat and a Pakistan win will be a just reward for the spin-wizard.
Published in Dawn, November 27th, 2018