MULTAN: Debutant mystery leg-spinner Abrar Ahmed stunned England on Friday, grabbing seven wickets as the visitors were bowled all out at 180 shortly after lunch on the opening day of the second Test in Multan.
Abrar became the 13th Pakistani bowler to claim five or more wickets on his first Test appearance.
The 24-year-old — nicknamed "Harry Potter" by friends because he wears glasses similar to those of the fictional boy wizard — dismissed Zak Crawley (19), Ben Duckett (63) and Joe Root (eight) in the first two hours, before sending Ollie Pope (60) and Harry Brook (nine) on their way.
The first session ended with England scoring 180-5, with Ben Stokes and Will Jacks with 14 and zero respectively. Wickets-wise, the session was in complete contrast to the first Test when England smashed 174-0 by lunch on an opening day.
Abrar became the 13th Pakistan bowler to claim a fifer on their Test debut, before him Muhammad Zahid Nazir Jr, Bilal Asif, Arif Butt, Tanvir Ahmed, Shahid Afridi, Shahid Nazir, Wahab Riaz, Yasir Arafat, Shabbir Ahmed, Muhammad Sami, Noman Ali have held this record.
Abrar was born in Karachi but his family hails from a small village called Shinkiari in Mansehra district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
The 24-year-old developed interest in the game while playing tape-ball cricket in Karachi’s Lines Area.
Abrar suffered a major career setback just when he was starting to make a name for himself in the domestic cricket.
After the PSL in 2017, where he was Karachi Kings’ emerging pick, Abrar suffered a stage-five stress fracture and was out of action for two years.
“He [Abrar] could have been paralyzed. It was serious. I remember the doctor telling our elder brother and me that he might never be able to play cricket again,” his brother Sajid recalled in an interview with The Indian Express.
Abrar made his first-class debut in 2020 while playing for Sindh, against Southern Punjab, in the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy.
He currently has 76 wickets in 26 first-class innings at an average of 25.56 with best match figures of 11-63.
Interestingly, Abrar had never heard about legendary Pakistan leg-spinner Abdul Qadir during his early cricket days.
“Who is he, never heard his name,” Abrar replied when asked about Qadir by Mushtaq Ahmed, the then head coach of Pakistan’s National Cricket Academy in Lahore, five years ago.
West Indies spinner Sunil Narine is Abrar’s role model in cricket, according to his coach Mohammad Masroor.
Abrar had received maiden call-up in the Test squad ahead of this series following an impressive run in the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy 2022-23. The 24-year-old right-arm spinner won the best bowler of the tournament award and topped the leading wicket-taker chart with 43 scalps in seven matches at an average of 21.95.
With additional input from AFP
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