Pakistan's New Spin Regiment Rattles Mighty Australia
With just three Tests between them, Zulfiqar Babar and Yasir Shah are mere shadows of senior teammate Saeed Ajmal. The two rookie spinners, however made up for his absence by taking Pakistan to a memorable Test win against Australia in Dubai.
Fans may be missing Saeed Ajmal but the Pakistan team seems to be having no problems in the spin department. This after inexperienced Zulfiqar Babar and debutant Yasir Shah combined to wreck the Australian batting on Sunday. Pakistan won the Dubai Test by 221 runs and took a 1-0 lead in the series. (Also read: Younis Khan Considered Sitting out Tests vs Australia)
Both Babar and Shah had struck repeated blows against Australia in both innings of the Test match. While Shah had claimed three in the first innings and another 4 in the second, Babar added to his first innings figures of 2/81 by picking up 5 more on the final day of the match. It was an effort which ensured there were no heroics from any of the Australian batsmen as the team folded on an embarrassing 216 runs.
Many had questioned Pakistan's ability to bowl out Australia. The absence of ace spinner Saeed Ajmal - banned for an illegal bowling action - had created further doubts about the spin department. Babar and Shah however emerged as the unlikely heroes despite the fact that they have hardly had any international exposure. While Babar featured in two Tests before taking on the mighty Aussies, Shah made his debut. (Also read: Michael Clarke Praises 'Gentleman' Younis Khan)
That Babar at 35 and Shah at 28 have had a long wait to play at the top only seemed to have increased their appetite for wickets. The wily duo made full use of a track that assisted turn, and ensured that the Australian batsmen failed to mount a line of defence. In fact, barring Steve Smith who hit 55, no other batsman could negotiate the two bowlers. Even the experienced Michael Clarke and Brad Haddin failed in the second innings - scoring 3 and 0 respectively.
With the World Cup four months away, the recent performances from Babar and Shah will come as a major respite for an anxious Pakistan camp. While the tracks Down Under may not be as friendly for the spinners as the pitches in UAE, both bowlers would be confident of delivering similar performances, if picked. And going by their Test performance against Australia, selection may not be a tough ask.