Bilal credits legend for stunning spell | cricketnetwork.com

Bilal credits legend for stunning spell

10 October 2018

Australia's conqueror set to be an even greater threat in the final innings

A journeyman off-spinner with an arts degree and a doosra, Bilal Asif credited Pakistan great Mushtaq Ahmed for his astonishing rampage that flattened Australia on day three of the first Test.

While the Australians had somehow found recent footage of a man whose brief foray into international cricket three years ago was overshadowed by a report of a suspect action, they had no answers for Bilal on Tuesday in Dubai.

The 33-year-old snared 6-36 in a devastating spell after the lunch break on Tuesday as Australia lost 10-60 to all but end their hopes of drawing first blood in their two-Test series.

Bilal goes bonkers as Aussies collapse to spin

Bilal, who only started playing first-class cricket aged 26, played three one-day internationals in 2015 as an opening batsman and admitted he wasn't sure whether he'd ever get a shot at Test level.

"I didn’t (know) whether I would get a chance or not," he said.

"What I could do was to work hard on my game. I was out of the team since 2015, I was at the National Cricket Academy camp where I worked with ‘Mushy bhai’ (former Test leg-spinner, now assistant coach Mushtaq Ahmed).

"I need to really thank him for the work he did with me. I have been working with him in the last three years. I got the reward today - credit goes to Mushy who has always supported me on and off the field."

Bilal gave captain Tim Paine a glimpse of his doosra, a delivery that spins the opposite way to a stock off-break which few in the world can accurately bowl, but he hardly needed it in his startling spell.

Shaun Marsh became his maiden Test scalp when he airily drove outside off and edged to slip, as Bilal removed top-scorer Usman Khawaja for 85 before fellow debutants Travis Head and Marnus Labuschagne followed.

He'd taken four wickets in 22 balls but the chaos wasn't over as he then dismissed Paine before wrapping the innings when Nathan Lyon swept one straight to square leg.

Painful day for the Aussie skipper // Getty
Painful day for the Aussie skipper // Getty

Aaron Finch, who scored 62 before becoming the first wicket to fall, said the Aussies had prepared carefully for Bilal but found his height and bounce a particular challenge.

"There was a lot of videos we watched, did a lot of research. Watching it on a computer screen is obviously very different to being out in a Test match environment facing him," said Finch.

"The difference with him today was just the bounce. He's obviously very tall, gets over the top, puts a lot of revs on the ball which was a challenge to start with. He was very accurate as well.

"He didn't give us anything off the back foot which is probably the easiest way to score on a wicket like that."

Bilal salutes Khawaja's exit // Getty
Bilal salutes Khawaja's exit // Getty

Australia will have to contend with him again in the final innings of the match when the pitch will be offering even more turn and Bilal is confident he's got the recipe for success in this part of the world.

"I have been bowling a lot and I have bowled like this in first-class matches as well," he continued. "I have an idea how to get wickets on a particular wicket.

"I had a good look at the pitch also I knew the conditions in the UAE. It helps the spinners. I tried to bring some variations in terms of my pace and the result was good today."

Qantas Tour of the UAE

Australia Test squad: Tim Paine (c), Ashton Agar, Brendan Doggett, Aaron Finch, Travis Head, Jon Holland, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Mitch Marsh, Shaun Marsh, Michael Neser, Matthew Renshaw, Peter Siddle, Mitchell Starc

Pakistan Test squad: Sarfraz Ahmed (c), Azhar Ali, Fakhar Zaman, Imam-ul-Haq, Babar Azam, Asad Shafiq, Haris Sohail, Usman Salahuddin, Yasir Shah, Shadab Khan, Bilal Asif, Mohammad Abbas, Hasan Ali, Wahab Riaz, Faheem Ashraf, Mir Hamza, Mohammad Rizwan, Mohammad Hafeez

Sep 29 - Oct 2: Tour match v Pak A, Dubai

Oct 7-11: First Test, Dubai

Oct 16-20: Second Test, Abu Dhabi

About the Writer

 @LouisDBCameron
@LouisDBCameron

Louis Cameron is a Melbourne-based journalist. A former Victorian Bushrangers fast bowler, Louis joined the cricket.com.au team with assistance from the Australian Cricketers' Association's Internship Program in 2016.