Babar, Saud solid after debutant Abrar cracks England on Day 1 in Multan

MULTAN: Mystery spinner Abrar Ahmed stormed through England’s batting line with seven wickets on his debut Test before skipper Babar Azam raised a brilliant fifty to put Pakistan on top in the second Test.

England’s strong batting line was completely shattered by the magical spin of the 24-year-old debutant, who claimed his maiden five-wicket haul in international cricket in the very first session on the opening day of the Multan Test.

Abrar becomes the third Pakistani bowler after Mohammad Nazir and Mohammad Zahid to take seven scalps on a maiden Test as he went on to knock down skipper Ben Stokes and Will Jacks in the afternoon session.

After Abrar effectively derailed  England’s solid batting line on 231 for 7, fellow spinner Zahid Mahmood ran through the lower order and booked England on 281 in the first innings before Tea.

Pakistan, on the other hand, went through a disappointing start to their innings when James Anderson removed opener Imam-ul-Haq on a duck in a caught-behind wicket while Abdullah Shafique fell prey to Jack Leach after he stitched a second-wicket stand of 46-run with skipper Babar.

Babar, however, led the charge and played a skilful knock of an unbeaten 61 off 76 to steer Pakistan to 107/2 before stumps alongside Saud Shakeel who notched up not-out 32 off 46.

Opting to bat first, England tried to continue their momentum of the previous game, where they scored a record 506/4 on the opening day, but a mystery unleashed by Pakistan in form of Abrar had other plans.

A brilliant googly in the very first over which clean bowled last match centurion Zak Crawley on 19 from 37 balls had nearly set the stage for the new entrant.

Duckett and Pope, however, nullified the early scare and went with the full throttle as the two gathered 79 runs from just 61 balls before Abrar provided the breakthrough. He plumbed Duckett, who looked in sublime form on 63 off 49, while he was attempting to sweep with a successful call from Babar Azam to review the umpire’s original decision of not out.

At 117 for 2 in 19 overs, England looked indifferent and tried to continue the tempo with Joe Root, their best bid against spin, on the crease but a big leg break knock him down with a successful Pakistan review once again.

He then went on to hunt Pope at 60 and completed his five-wicket haul with Harry Brook’s miscued shot at mid-off which ended in the hands of Mohammad Nawaz.

Captain Ben Stokes, however, was left awe-struck after the break when a wrong one by the youngster knocked the stumps with an incredibly googly.

Will Jacks soon followed the suit as Abrar struck him down on 31 off 44 after he stitched a 61-run stand with skipper Stokes in the post-lunch session.

Mark Wood played an unbeaten knock of 36 off 27 lower down the order while the wickets kept on falling as Mahmood hunted down the tailenders Ollie Robinson Jack Leach and James Anderson.