x Abu Dhabi, UAE Friday 21 July 2017

New Pakistan spinner on horizon

Karamat Ali takes five wickets as the UAE are beaten by 150 runs at the Under 19 Asia Cup. Paul Radley reports from Sharjah.

Saud Shakeel top-scored for Pakistan on Sunday. Pawan Singh / The National
Saud Shakeel top-scored for Pakistan on Sunday. Pawan Singh / The National

SHARJAH // With the likes of Saeed Ajmal, Mohammad Hafeez, Shahid Afridi and Abdul Rehman around, Pakistan do not exactly need high-quality spin bowlers.

Given that each is on the wrong side of age 30, though, it is never too early to start seeking ready successors. Judging by his display against an admittedly inexperienced UAE side on Sunday, Pakistan may have found a future international leg-spinner of substance.

On a docile batting track at Sharjah Stadium, Karamat Ali, a little-known 17 year old from Lahore, took five for 25 to lead Pakistan to a resounding win over the UAE in the Under 19 Asia Cup. With Usman Qadir already knocking on the door of the senior team, Pakistan’s wrist-spin bowling cupboard suddenly appears healthily stocked.

“He wasn’t actually in the plans to be selected for this tour, he wasn’t in the limelight, but he performed brilliantly in the national U19 tournament,” said Ali Zia, the Pakistan team manager.

“As a leg-spinner, we thought he could be very useful over here. He bowls the googly, has very good variation, he is a useful fielder and he has also scored some valuable runs for his team.”

Earlier in the day, Saud Shakeel top-scored for Pakistan, stroking 74 as his side posted 274 for nine in their 50 overs. In response, the UAE could only manage 124.

For the second day in succession, though, Chirag Suri appeared to the manner born when opening up the UAE batting against a new-ball attack from a Test nation.

As he had done against India on Saturday, he made an unflustered start against Pakistan’s pace battery.

Unfortunately for the UAE, though, there was also a repeat of the previous day’s batting collapse once he had vacated the scene after an attractive 38. The home side then withered against Karamat’s bewitching spin and succumbed from 56 for no loss to 124 all out.

“They are a good team, but it is not like they are unplayable,” said Suri, who will be part of the UAE’s senior squad for next month’s World Cup qualifier in New Zealand.

“They are here to throw a ball and we are here to bat. It is just about temperament and we are here to learn about that. For me, I need to take starts of 20 and 30 and turn them into big scores.

“Making 70s, 80s and hundreds is what would really help my team do well and win games like this.”

A second win in successive days sets Pakistan up neatly for tomorrow’s encounter with the undefeated India side in Dubai.

“It is obviously always better to get a win going into a big match, and this was good practice for my batsmen and bowlers,” said Azam Khan, Pakistan’s coach. “They are in good shape right now, so I think the match between Pakistan and India is going to be very good.”