Pakistan v England: Ben Duckett sends warning to debutant Abrar Ahmed
Ben Duckett insists England have no intention of ‘blocking’ Pakistan debutant Abrar Ahmed despite his dream start to Test cricket.
Ahmed, 24, took seven wickets as England were bowled out for 281 in 51.4 overs on day one of the second Test in Multan.
At one stage Ahmed had taken all seven wickets to fall and just missed out on becoming the first Pakistan bowler to take eight wickets in his first Test innings as fellow spinner Zahid Mahmood chipped in with three lower-order scalps.
Pakistan reached 107-2 by the close of play as they look to level the three-match series after a humbling defeat in Rawalpindi last week.
Duckett says Ahmed bowled ‘beautifully’ on his debut but has dismissed suggestions England could not read the mystery spinner and insisted they would take him on in the second innings.
‘I can only talk individually and I had my plans for him. He was basically a leg-spinner who had a good googly,’ said Duckett, who top-scored for England with 63 from 49 balls.
‘There was no real mystery to it but he bowled beautifully today. I’m sure we’ll have our plans second innings but I’m pretty sure it won’t be blocking it.
‘I think I swept about 90% of his balls and when you’re sweeping you don’t necessarily look for it but his googly was a lot slower.
‘Most of the guys said they did pick him, he just bowled some nice deliveries and unfortunately for us, it was his day today.
‘There was limited footage of him, mainly of him bowling in the nets and not much to left-handers but to me personally, I’d rather not know all of his tricks because I’ll be worrying about what he can do.
‘I’d rather focus on what I can do to him. When you’re sweeping, he generally bowls quite slow, it doesn’t matter too much which way it is turning.’
Duckett, who scored a century in the series opener, believes the second Test is evenly poised and insists Ben Stokes and Brendon McCullum were ‘very happy’ with England’s batting display.
England looked in a good position to post another big total at 117-1 but lost four more wickets before lunch as their batters continued to look for boundaries.
‘I’d say it’s level at the minute. We were a couple of quick wickets away from it being our day,’ Duckett added to Sky Sports.
‘We’ll have to see how it goes in the morning but we’re pretty happy overall. Today was about assessing those conditions early and as soon as the seamer bowled that slower ball, it was clear it was going to spin. I think the game is going to move forward pretty quickly.
‘If we can keep them to around our score, anything less is a bonus, then I think it should be very hard work in the fourth innings.
‘[Stokes and McCullum] are very happy. You’re know what they’re like, they’re very positive. We were actually really happy at lunch with the rate we scored.
‘A lot of teams might have been quite tentative and you could easily have been 100-6 at lunch. The rate we scored at, they’re pretty happy. I think it’ll be an exciting game, I hope it keeps spinning.’
Ahmed, meanwhile, insisted his Test debut was a day to remember as he ripped through England and put Pakistan on top.
‘I will not forget today, but now I want to win this match for Pakistan,’ he said via an interpreter. ‘I definitely dreamed about getting five wickets on debut but not so quickly.’
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