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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 15 December 2018

Yasir Shah's 'best leg-spin bowling' powers Pakistan to big win over New Zealand in Dubai

Coach Mickey Arthur pays tribute to strike bowler, whose 14-wicket haul for the match helps level Test series 1-1

Pakistan leg-spinner Yasir Shah, centre, celebrates with teammates after taking the wicket of New Zealand batsman Ish Sodhi in Dubai on Tuesday. AFP
Pakistan leg-spinner Yasir Shah, centre, celebrates with teammates after taking the wicket of New Zealand batsman Ish Sodhi in Dubai on Tuesday. AFP

Yasir Shah bowled some of “the best leg-spin bowling you will ever see” in carrying Pakistan to a series-levelling win over New Zealand in Dubai.

That is the view of Pakistan coach Mickey Arthur, who heaped praise on Yasir, who took 14 wickets in the match over the course of a little over a day.

The 32-year-old spinner added six second-innings wickets to the eight he took in the first, to set up an innings and 16-run win for his side at the Dubai International Stadium.

“It was superb to watch,” Arthur said. “We felt he got some good rhythm going in Abu Dhabi [in last week's first Test], and we knew he had a big performance inside of him.

“That first innings, I think there was a spell of about half an hour of the best leg-spin bowling you will ever see.

“The drift, the pace, the spin, was phenomenal. It was incredible bowling. Fourteen wickets in a Test match is superb.”

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Yasir’s match figures of 14-184 were the third best in history by a leg-spinner, after Narendra Hirwani and Anil Kumble.

He has taken 22 wickets in the first two matches of the series, which reaches its climax when the teams return to Abu Dhabi for the third Test next week.

“Yasir is very comfortable mentally, and he knows what an important cog he is in our Test line up,” Arthur said.

“We felt Yasir started bowling really well in the second Test against Australia in Abu Dhabi. He got his rhythm going and we felt he was really good there.

“Then he had a break. We didn’t see him for two weeks while we were in the Twenty20s and ODIs.

“Coming back, we had to get him back into that rhythm again, and this is the best rhythm I’ve seen him have. I think he will just get better and better from here.”

Arthur said his side had been “clinical” in the manner in which they bounced back from an agonising, four-run loss in the first Test, a match he felt they “dominated” other than the last mad hour.

Middle-order batsman Ross Taylor, right, top-scored for New Zealand in their second innings in Dubai on Tuesday. AFP
Middle-order batsman Ross Taylor, right, top-scored for New Zealand in their second innings in Dubai on Tuesday. AFP

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New Zealand captain Kane Williamson pointed to an improved second innings performance with the bat as a reason to be optimistic that they can respond in kind in the capital.

New Zealand lost all 10 first innings wickets for just 40, as they were bowled out for 90 in Dubai.

But, second time around, three players passed 50 – Tom Latham, Ross Taylor and Henry Nicholls – as they made 312.

“It was a great game in Abu Dhabi [last week] and one of our great Test wins, which was extremely exciting to be a part of,” Williamson said.

“Then to come here, obviously it wasn’t our best performance by any means. But we know how difficult it is to play Pakistan in these conditions.

“We will learn from this experience in Dubai. Pakistan will be full of confidence after their performance, hopefully we can build on some of the confidence we took in the second half of this game.”