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Is Yasir better than Ashwin and Lyon?


On the fourth morning of the final Test in Abu Dhabi against New Zealand, Yasir Shah did not merely break an 82-year-old record, he smashed it.

By dismissing William Somerville roughly half an hour into the morning, he picked up his 200th Test wicket in just his 33rd Test. That breaks the record for the fastest to 200 Test wickets, so long held by another legspinner, Clarrie Grimmett who reached the mark in his 36th Test.

The wicket came in trademark Yasir style, the key to it the pace at which it was bowled, breaking a little but hurrying onto Somerville’s pads. The batsmen had a discussion, but ultimately decided not to take a review.

By then Yasir had already been engulfed by his team-mates, performing the sajda in the process of acknowledging the landmark. As has been the case with so many of Pakistan’s greatest moments in the UAE, barely a handful of people were present at the ground to witness it.

“When I started I never dreamed that I would get this record,” Yasir later said. “I was just playing cricket at the time and I didn’t even think I could play for Pakistan.

“I thank Allah for this success. It was my dream to take 200 wickets and it came true today. I would like to dedicate the world record to my mother.”

Given his form in this series it was inevitable Yasir would break the record at some point during the Test. And on the first day it looked as if he would have it wrapped by the afternoon. He took three quick wickets in the hour before lunch as New Zealand slipped from 70 for 1 to 72 for 4. But he was to pick up no more in that innings, Bilal Asif instead ending up with a five-for.




Yasir Shah bathed in the warm glow of sunset © Getty Images


Already his 27th wicket of the series, with more batsmen to come, he could also break another Pakistan record, for most wickets in a three-Test series. That has been held by another legspinner, Abdul Qadir who took 30 wickets against England in 1987-88.

This series has been an especially rich one for Yasir, and a welcome return to the wickets after an unusually quiet start to the season. Returning from a hip injury that forced him to miss the tour of Ireland and England earlier this year, Yasir looked understandably rusty against Australia last month. A relatively small haul of eight wickets in two Tests included the first time had gone wicketless in an innings in the UAE.

But he has looked like the old Yasir again at times in this series and indeed in the second Test in Dubai, bowled as good a spell as he has ever bowled. He ended with 14 wickets in the Test, only the second Pakistani to take as many, after Imran Khan.

As well as being the quickest to 200, Yasir was the joint second-fastest to 100 Test wickets (in 17 Tests) and the fastest Pakistani to 50 Test wickets (in nine Tests).

Osman Samiuddin is a senior editor at ESPNcricinfo


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Cricket

Tamim Iqbal returns from injury with match-winning ton against West Indians

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Bangladesh Cricket Board XI 314 for 6 in 41 overs (Tamim 107, Sarkar 103*, Chase 2-57) beat West Indians 331 for 8 (Hope 81, Chase 65*, Rubel 2-55) by 51 runs (DLS method)

Tamim Iqbal marked his return from injury with a blazing century for the BCB XI. The touring West Indians – under brand-new captain Rovman Powell – lost their only warm-up game before the three-match ODI series that begins on Saturday in a high-scoring rain-hit contest.

Tamim, who fractured his left wrist during the Asia Cup in September, scored at a strike-rate close to 150, as he pummelled the West Indian bowlers for 13 fours and four sixes, making a 73-ball 107 while chasing 332.

ALSO READ: Tamim, Shakib return to Bangladesh’s ODI squad

In a game where the BCB XI bowlers were themselves clattered for 331 in the first innings, Tamim joined forces with No. 3 Soumya Sarkar early in the chase to add 114 runs for the second wicket in just 83 balls. Sarkar smacked a quickfire unbeaten ton of his own, finishing on an 83-ball 103, as BCB XI won by 51 runs (via DLS method) with rain stopping play in the afternoon.

Even if it wasn’t for the downpour, BCB XI were anyway cruising towards their target of 332 on the back of the Tamim-Sarkar stand. When the game stopped after 41 overs in the second innings at 314 for 6, the hosts were just 18 runs away from victory. What would disappoint Bangladesh, though, is that the next highest score among the six other batsmen was only 27.

ALSO READ: Rovman Powell to lead West Indies’ 15-man ODI squad

Earlier in the day, the West Indians, too, had a field day with the bat after winning the toss. A century stand between openers Kieran Powell (43) and Shai Hope (81) gave them a rapid start, but five wickets in the middle overs derailed their progress. Mehedi Hasan Rana and Nazmul Islam shared two wickets each as the visitors went from 101 for no loss to 176 for 5. But a late surge by the unbeaten Roston Chase and No. 8 Fabian Allen took them past the 330-run mark. Chase finished on 65 off 51 balls, while Allen hit a 32-ball 48. Rubel Hossain and the captain Mashrafe Mortaza were the only two bowlers to concede less than six per over.

As for the West Indian bowlers, spinners found the most reward, with Chase and Devendra Bishoo taking four wickets between them. Chase’s offspin dismissed both Bangladesh openers while Bishoo’s legbreak earned him the wickets of Mohammad Mithun and Ariful Haque. Allen, the left-arm spinner, chipped in with Towrid Hridoy’s wicket. The West Indian pacers, though, found it harder on a batting-friendly surface. Keemo Paul and Kemar Roach went wicketless at over 9 per over while Oshane Thomas leaked 57 runs in his seven-over spell.



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Wasim Khan unveiled as PCB’s new managing director

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Wasim Khan, Leicestershire’s chief executive, has been unveiled as the new managing director of the Pakistan Cricket Board.

Wasim, who has been one of the leading lights of the ECB’s drive to engage British Asians in English cricket, forged his career as chairman of the schools’ cricket charity, Chance to Shine, before taking over at Grace Road in 2014.

He is understood to have been appointed to the PCB on a three-year contract, starting on February 1. He was sounded out for the role by Ehsan Mani, the former ICC chairman who was himself appointed as PCB chairman earlier this year by the country’s new Prime Minister, the former Pakistan allrounder Imran Khan.

“I am delighted to be offered the position of Managing Director of PCB – a role which I have accepted as a challenge,” said Wasim. “I have my roots in Pakistan, a country which is full of talent. I will be relocating to Pakistan with my family who are as excited as I am.”

Mani added: “We welcome Wasim who will be joining the PCB soon. He was selected unanimously following a robust interview process with some seriously good candidates. I must thank each and every applicant who participated in this process.

“Wasim brings with him fresh ideas and knowledge of cricket, and he will receive the support of the Board and the management of PCB.

“We have started the process of revamping the PCB and under Wasim, we now have an experienced leader of the management team who will oversee the implementation of the Board decisions. His first task would be to oversee the reforms of domestic cricket structure”.

Wasim’s departure is a blow to the ECB and, perhaps, sport in general in England and Wales. He is believed to be the only chief executive of BAME (black, Asian or minority ethnic) heritage at a professional sports club in the country and has long argued for greater ethnic inclusivity throughout the sport. At a time when English cricket is trying to reach out to Asian communities in particular, his departure leaves the game poorly represented.

For the PCB, on the other hand, the recruitment is something of a coup – especially as Wasim is understood to have been asked to apply for the ECB’s own vacancy, the England team MD role that Andrew Strauss recently relinquished for personal reasons.

The esteem in which Wasim is held in England circles was made clear in April, when he was appointed as chair of the ECB working party that was tasked with restructuring the domestic game for 2019. He remains a strong candidate to return to English cricket one day as the ECB’s chief executive.

Constitutionally, Mani will retain significant executive powers within the PCB’s new hierarchy, but Wasim is expected to take a lead role in the board’s corporate governance framework, working with all the PCB’s board-of-governors committees.

He will have a major say in the execution of approved strategies – in particular the reinvigoration of Pakistan’s domestic cricket, with a proposed move to eight regional sides – and is also expected to oversee the development of the PCB senior management executives to improve the board’s functionality and professionalism. At present it is thought that the board employs somewhere in the region of 900 people, at an annual budget of over Rs. 500million.

The ultimate feather in Wasim’s cap, however, would be to oversee the return of regular international cricket to Pakistan. In recent seasons, the successful staging of the PSL final (and latterly the semi-finals) has begun the process of bringing top-level sport back to the country, while Zimbabwe, West Indies and a World XI have all visited without incident since 2015.

However, Pakistan has not hosted a Test tour since the attack on the Sri Lanka team bus in March 2009, and England have not visited since December 2005. Wasim will hope that his excellent relationship with ECB officials will help change perceptions about the country. In addition, as a long-time supporter of the PCA (the Professional Cricketer’s’ Association; the players’ union in England and Wales) he may also look to introduce a players’ union for Pakistan cricketers that would oversee the fight against corruption and doping.

The role is sure to bring a vastly different set of challenges for Wasim, not least at a cultural level. He himself is British-born, having grown up in Birmingham, but he intends to relocate with his family to Lahore, the city in which his wife’s parents have roots.

In his playing days, Wasim was a member of the Warwickshire squad that won the double in 1995. In addition to his administrative roles within cricket, he has also sat on the Equality & Human Rights Commission Sports Group, The Prince’s Trust Cricket Group, the board of Sport England and was recently named in the Parliamentary Review Muslim 100 Power List.

At present, the day-to-day workings of the PCB are centred on the Chief Operating Officer, Subhan Ahmad, who is among the board’s longest-serving employees, having started his career as a data analyst 20 years ago. He has worked alongside four previous chairman – Ejaz Butt, Zaka Ashraf, Shahrayar Khan and Najam Sethi – prior to Mani’s appointment.

In a further indication of the board’s renewed ambition, Sami-ul-Hasan, the ICC’s highly rated head of communications, has agreed to take on the same role at the PCB.



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SA pick uncapped Zubayr Hamza for Pakistan Tests

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Zubayr Hamza, the 23-year-old Cape Cobras batsman, could make his Test debut against Pakistan on Boxing Day after being named in the 13-man South African squad for the upcoming three-match Test series. If he gains selection in the final XI he will become the 100th player to represent South Africa in Test cricket since readmission.

“Zubayr has been one of the standout cricketers in domestic cricket over the past year and carried that form into the South Africa A tour to India where he averaged over 50 in the four-day series against tough opposition and under tough conditions,” said CSA National Selection Panel convener Linda Zondi.

Hamza also enjoyed an outstanding season in the 2017-18 four-day franchise competition, scoring 828 runs at an average of 69 with three centuries.

“His selection is part of our vision for the future as we start to feed new players into the system,” Zondi explained. “It is inevitable that some of our senior players will start thinking of retiring in years to come and it is vital that we have a good succession plan in place.”

ALSO READ: One step at a time for level-headed Hamza

Cricket South Africa’s squad for the series also features the return of seamer Duanne Olivier in place of Lungi Ngidi, who injured his knee during a T20I against Australia last month and has been ruled out until the end of February. Olivier was part of the squad for the home Tests against Australia in 2018 and has represented the South Africa in five Test matches.

“As unfortunate as Lungi’s injury is we are blessed to have outstanding depth in our fast bowling resources,” Zondi said. “Duanne has impressed on his previous appearances for the Proteas and has had a good franchise season to date with 20 wickets in his five matches at an average of 22.80.

While he has been ruled out of Tshwane Spartans’ ongoing Mzansi Super League campaign with a back injury, batsman Theunis de Bruyn has also been included in the Test squad, and Tladi Bokako, the 25-year-old Cape Cobras and Durban Heat fast bowler, will join him as a non-playing member to gain experience.

“Tladi Bokako will work with the squad as a learning experience during the series in a continuation of the initiative we started with Kagiso Rabada and continued with Matthew Breetzke earlier in the season. He has had a good debut season for the Cape Cobras with 21 wickets at 26.33 to date. “We will continue to identify young players with the potential to become future Proteas,” Zondi concluded.

South Africa play three Tests, five ODIs and three T20Is against Pakistan starting on December 26.

South Africa squad: Faf du Plessis (capt), Hashim Amla, Temba Bavuma , Theunis de Bruyn, Quinton de Kock (wk), Dean Elgar, Zubayr Hamza, Keshav Maharaj, Aiden Markram, Duanne Olivier, Vernon Philander, Kagiso Rabada, Dale Steyn



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