Abu Dhabi: For a change, the capital sun chose to stay indoors, the conditions were overcast and though the heavens didn’t open up, Pakistan, led by their pacer Mohammad Abbas, created enough storm at the Shaikh Zayed Stadium to blow away Australia yesterday.
Abbas finished with 10 wickets in the match as Pakistan clinched the second Test by 373 runs and with that, the series 1-0, after bowling out Australia for 164 in 49.4 overs soon after lunch on the fourth day.
Abbas’s effort was the best by a Pakistan bowler since 2006 and it was Pakistan’s biggest victory over Australia in Tests.
He has become an instant sensation having become the 21st century man ranked fourth in the list of bowlers with the best averages in the 19th century. Abbas has taken 54 wickets with an average of 15.94 between 2017 and 2018.
“We won at the Lords against England and then lost the next match in Leeds, so the plan was to do well in the next Test series. I wanted to make sure that the team won and I’m very happy that I contributed to the team’s winning cause by the grace of Allah,” said a beaming Abbas, who walked away with the Man-of-the-Series award for his 17 wickets in the series.
Australia began the day at 47 for one, trailing by 491 runs. Aaron Finch and Travis Head gave some fight and put on a partnership of 61 runs for the second wicket, but once that resistance was broken, the Aussies lost wickets in a heap.
Head, on 36, was the first to be walking back after Abbas managed to hit the seam and got the ball to straighten a bit with the resultant nick travelling to substitute keeper Mohammad Rizwan.
A pumped-up Abbas struck again in his next over with the wicket of Mitchell Marsh — leg before on the review after umpire Richard Illingworth had initially adjudged the latter not out.
In the same over, Abbas managed to leave Australian skipper Tim Paine bamboozled after the latter offered no shot and the ball did enough to crash onto the off-stump. A jubilant Abbas took off for a wild celebration following that scalp.
Played to his strengths
“I was working on my same strengths and trying to be in the same circle and focus on bowling the same way. In Dubai, I managed some reverse swing, but here that was not the case. The pitch had little bit of moisture and today it was overcast and that helped,” said Abbas, who also ended the resistance from Marnus Labuschagne soon after lunch. Labushchagne was fighting a lone battle on 43 and had ensured Australia somehow survived one session.
With Abbas getting Labushchagne out caught behind, the sun was back for the first time in the day and with that Australia’s final wicket also fell — Jon Holland caught at slips off Yasir Shah. The leg spinner also finished with figures of three for 25 from 21.4 overs.
“I do a lot of homework before every match and for every batsmen. I sit with the bowling coach Azhar Mahmood. I watch videos of batsmen whom I will be bowling too,” said Abbas, who said he was encouraged by encouragement from a contemporary great such as Dale Steyn. The South African stalwart had lauded Abbas’ showing with a tweet: “I see a new number 1 Test bowler coming ... Mohammad Abbas.”
“My teammates told me about the tweets. It gives you happiness but also adds a bit of pressure. Now, I know my role is a bit more in the team and I have to improve more. Hopefully, I can be the world No. 1 Test bowler.”