Cricket

Published on April 27th, 2017 | by Suraj Choudhari

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Yasir Shah continues to haunt West Indies with his guile

The sight of watching a leg-spinner chipping wickets is mesmerising. They are wired for picking wickets and one needs to invest in them on order to reap fruitful results. Yasir Shah has been the spine of Pakistan’s spin attack and has done a commendable job with the ball in hand. Unlike many modern day leg-spinners, Yasir is not someone, who possesses a deceiving googly but rather lets his stock deliveries do the immense damage. His unparalleled accuracy and ability to turn the ball stands him out from his imminent peers. in fact, Australian legend Shan Warne also hailed him as one of the best leg-spinners he has come across.

Yasir Has been a thorn in the flesh for West Indies. In the recently concluded first Test at Kingston, Yasir engineered Pakistan’s victory with eight wickets in from the game as they visitors gained a healthy lead of 1-0. Yasir ran through West Indies’ batting in the second innings and bagged six wickets to decimate the hosts for 152 in the second innings. Yasir bowled with immense confidence and got the ball to turn in the second innings, further exploiting the conditions to the fullest.

After this outing, Yasir has scalped a total of 29 wickets in four matches against West Indies at a staggering average of 24.75. With three five-wicket hauls, Yasir has claimed two man-of-the-match awards in just four games, which speaks volume about his dominance over the Caribbean side. His performance in the Kingston Test was a classic example of leg-spin bowling.

West Indies posted a fighting 286 in their first innings after some early hiccups. Pakistan batted well riding on Misbah-u-Haq’s unbeaten 99 and gained a healthy lead of 121 runs in the first innings. Yasir had just a couple of wickets to his name in the first innings as Mohammad Amir inflicted massive damage with his career-best 6 for 44.

West Indies had a mountain to climb in the second innings but with Day 2 being completely washed out, they had a golden opportunity in saving the Test but Yasir made the difference. On Day 4, West Indies had 28 odd overs to confront and overhaul a lead of 121. It was a task but they had the batting to do so. Pakistani pacers were negotiated well by the West Indies openers, Craig Brathwaite and Kieran Powell did well in throwing any wicket.

In search of a wicket, Yasir was brought into the attack and he didn’t upset as he got the key wicket of Brathwaite on the very first delivery. A beauty if a delivery from Yasir to draw the first blood as Brathwaite’s stumps were uprooted with his accuracy. Ten overs later, Shimron Hetmyer smashed Yasir for a maximum but Yasir responded with a bang and got the better of him with a massive turn. He ball hit the rough and spun into the left-hander, it hit his bat and then ricocheted onto his stumps.

Then came Shai Hope’s turn. This time Yasir was a bit quicker through the air and caught Hope leg before. It looked plumb but Hope decided ti review, which went in vain. In the very next over, a well set Powell was undone by Yasir as Younis Khan grabbed an easy catch at first slip. The tone was set for a Pakistani victory with four wickets down at the end of Day 4 and a lead of 32 runs still mounting over.

The next day belonged to Pakistani pacers as the combination of Mohammad Amir, Mohammad Nawaz and Wahab Riaz did well by chipping in for wickets between them. The tail was wide open with West Indies being 151 for 8, when Yasir managed to clean them up. Yasir got some drift into Alzarri Joseph after which the ball struck his pads and was ruled out. With this, Yasir claimed his ninth fifer in Test cricket and achieved another milestone. Three deliveries later, Shannon Gabriel fell prey to Yasir’s persistence. He went for the kill and attempted to strike big but only managed a top edge, which was cupped by Mohammad Nawaz at mid-off.

West Indies were dismantled for 152, setting a target of 32 for the visitors to chase. After a rocky start, while chasing such a mere target, Misbah and Babar Azam carried the team over the line and recorded a fine seven-wicket victory. Yasir was rightly adjudged man-of-the-match and continued to haunt Pakistan with his guile and spin.

Yasir’s was expected to pose a massive threat to the West Indies batting, which he undoubtedly did. With two more matches to go, one can expect Yasir to inflict more damage and milk wickets out of the surfaces. It’s a farewell series for the two Pakistani batting stalwarts – Younis Khan and Misbah-ul-Haq. And, Yasir can play a key role in giving them a happy farewell. Pakistan are clear favourites for this series and well capable of a registering a clean sweep.

With Yasir being on-song in the very first game, West Indies’ batsmen need to come up with a tactic to counter-attack him. Yasir is a match-winner and looks hungry for more success. His hike to 132 Test wickets has been quick, in just 24 games to be precise. One can expect him to finish with a lot of wickets in his kitty and acknowledged as one of the best spinners to have played for Pakistan by the time he is done playing cricket.

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About the Author

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Suraj Choudhari is a freelance sports journalist. He is an avid follower of the game and played the sport at club level. With a radical understanding about the subtle nuances and intricacies of cricket, he tries to express it through paper and pen.



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