Karachi: Agha Salman picked up only two wickets over eight innings in the six previous tests. Therefore, when Pakistan was asked for fielding by New Zealand in the second Test at the National Stadium here on Monday, the 29-year-old playing as a batting player all-rounder- – would have stood no chance to be the main attraction of the day for New Zealand on an opening day.
Pakistan had opted for three pacers on a surface with some green. Salman was supposed to assist the starting spinner, Abrar Ahmed. But it was Salman’s off-break bowler who played the leading role: Salman’s 355-run figures up to the time of the match resulted in Pakistan taking a step off New Zealand and leaving them at 309-6 at the end of the match.
And with a broad smile, Salman attended the press conference to review the day’s activities.
As the second spin option, I did recognize when the team announced that I would have some responsibility. “But I try to contribute as much as I can, whether it’s with the bat or the ball.”
Salman gave New Zealand a wobble after captain Babar Azam repeatedly and comprehensively beat the bowler. The primary victim was New Zealand’s century-maker Devon Conway before he followed with the wickets Daryl Mitchell and Henry Nicholls when the hosts fell to the top of the order at 234-1 just after tea.
He attributed his spin show to the effort he’d put into nets. “I work with [head coach] Saqlain Mushtaq for long time periods during net sessions,” said the coach, “and I will continue doing this.”
Conway’s dismissal resulted from impressive glovework from Sarfraz Ahmed in front of the stumps. The wicket-keeper returned to the team to play for the first time at the beginning of 2019 in the opening Test match of the series. Sarfraz received criticism for making clumsy catches in the first game. But when Pakistan attempted to break through, he was in this position and hung the ball.
“Dropped catches are a part of the game and they can happen to anyone,” Salman said. Salman. “I did my best to throw in the right areas, keep a straight distance and line. I also think that we have to credit the bowling team for how they came back into our game.”
With 3 wickets, Salman made it to 100 wickets in first class. Prior to learning about it from a newspaper reporter, he was not aware of it.
“Now that you tell me, I feel good as it’s a milestone,” he added. And he’s not going to be stopping anytime shortly. “If I get a chance tomorrow, I’ll definitely try to go for a five-wicket haul, but I hope the pacers finish them off early.”