Pakistan’s Bilal Asif dishes out six of the best to leave Australia staring at defeat in Dubai

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New boy Bilal Asif made an instant impression on the Test scene in Dubai. (AFP)
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Updated 11 October 2018

Pakistan’s Bilal Asif dishes out six of the best to leave Australia staring at defeat in Dubai

  • Debutant decimates Australia to leave Pakistan with huge first innings lead in Dubai.
  • Hosts have 325-run lead at stumps on say three.

DUBAI: Test debutant Bilal Asif snatched six wickets to spark a spectacular Australian collapse from 142-0 to 202 all out and put Pakistan in firm command of the first Test in Dubai.
The 33-year-old off-spinner overshadowed his more experienced team-mate Yasir Shah by finishing with six for 36 as his efforts, the third best figures for a Pakistani bowler on Test debut, derailed Australia on a pitch which started to assist spinners on the third day.
Despite being jolted by spinner Jon Holland’s two key wickets of Mohammad Hafeez (17) and Azhar Ali (four), Pakistan closed the day on 45 for three, giving them an overall lead of 325 with seven second-innings wickets intact.
Opener Imam-ul-Haq was unbeaten on 23 while nightwatchman Asif was dismissed for nought, unable to guard Azhar from coming to bat in a crucial stage.
But it was a day highlighted by Asif who triggered a memorable Australian collapse against spin in Asia to mark a long-awaited Test debut.

Asif takes the wicket of Aussie opener Usman Khawaja as the Baggy Greens lost all 10 wickets for just 60 runs. 


“I knew that my chance would come, so I waited and waited and thanks God I have done myself proud by getting six wickets on debut, it’s a tremendous feeling,” said Asif.
“I was struggling a bit in the first session, but all my teammates and coaches gave me confidence and that increased my energy which helped me get six wickets.”
By lunch Australia were well-placed at 137 without loss with Usman Khawaja (85) and debutant Aaron Finch (62), but the slump followed shortly after as the Baggy Greens lost all 10 wickets for just 60 runs.

AWESOME ASIF

Asif, who had previously played three one-day internationals in 2015, came into his own after pacer Mohammad Abbas removed Finch following an opening stand of 142.
In a spell of 22 balls Asif took four wickets as Australia slumped to 180 for five by tea.
The second session belonged to Asif, who dismissed Khawaja, Shaun Marsh (seven), Travis Head (nought) and Marnus Labuschagne (nought) in the space of 29 runs.
Asif’s feats on debut had only been bettered by fast bowler Mohammad Zahid (seven for 66 vs New Zealand in Rawalpindi in 1994) and spinner Mohammad Nazir (seven for 99 against New Zealand in Karachi in 1969).
Asif is the 11th Pakistani bowler to take five or more wickets in an innings on Test debut.
Before Asif’s brilliance Abbas had forced Finch to drive straight into the hands of Asad Shafiq at short mid-on.

It was a great day in the field for the Pakistanis as they took control of the first Test in Dubai. 

Khawaja hit eight fours before miscuing a premeditated sweep and was caught at short leg while Finch had five boundaries and a six in his knock.
Leg-spinner Yasir was unlucky not to be among the wickets, having dropped Mitchell Marsh off his own bowling for two and wicketkeeper Sarfraz Ahmed missing a stump in the first session with Khawaja on 17.
Yasir went wicketless after 28 probing overs.
Earlier in the day Finch was more confident as he punched two boundaries and a six off Yasir before sweeping Asif for a boundary to reach his half-century.
Khawaja, the Pakistan-born batsman, improved upon his previous best score in Asia of 26, made against Sri Lanka at Galle in 2011, by reaching his 13th Test half-century.
The second and final Test starts in Abu Dhabi from Oct. 16. Both teams will also play three Twenty20 internationals after Tests.


Man City’s court triumph set to intensify race for top 4 places in Premier League

Updated 14 July 2020

Man City’s court triumph set to intensify race for top 4 places in Premier League

  • The fight for a top-five finish has reverted back to needing to be in the top four to join champion Liverpool and City, already secured in second place

LONDON: Manchester City’s success in overturning its Champions League ban on Monday has huge ramifications on the Premier League and the remaining two teams that will qualify for Europe’s top club competition.

Chelsea, Manchester United and Leicester — and maybe Wolverhampton Wanderers and Sheffield United, too — are now fighting for two qualifying spots instead of three with two weeks of the season remaining.

The fight for a top-five finish has reverted back to needing to be in the top four to join champion Liverpool and City, already secured in second place, in earning tens of millions of dollars in UEFA prize money next season.

The most concerned team is likely to be Leicester.

In the top four since September — and, in December, even looking like the most realistic title challenger to Liverpool — Leicester have imploded, collecting only two wins from their last 11 league games stretching back to the end of January.

After losing to relegation-threatened Bournemouth 4-1 on Sunday, Leicester will find themselves  in fifth place if Man United beat  Southampton on Monday.

United appears much more likely to secure a top-four finish and return to the Champions League after a season’s absence.

With four straight wins ahead of the Southampton game, United are the form team in the league and also has the most benign remaining schedule with upcoming matches against Crystal Palace and West Ham before what could be a winner-takes-all game game at Leicester on the final weekend of the season.

Making it all the more intriguing is the fact that another final-day match is between Chelsea and Wolves.

Chelsea is currently in third place, one point ahead of Leicester, but will drop into fourth if United beat  Southampton.

A victory over already-relegated Norwich on Tuesday appears pivotal for Chelsea, considering its last two games are at Liverpool — a team chasing records to cap its title-winning season — and then Wolves, who have gained a reputation for beating the top teams over the last two years.

Wolves are in sixth place, four points off the top four, so the ruling by the Court of Arbitration for Sport has come as a blow to their Champions League ambitions.

Indeed, Wolves’ best chance of qualifying for the competition is now to win the Europa League, which earns entry to the Champions League. The team coached by Nuno Espirito Santo has reached the last 16 of the Europa League and will play the second leg of its match against Olympiakos next month, with the score at 1-1 after the first leg.

Likewise, seventh-place Sheffield United needed City to lose its appeal at sport’s highest court to stand a realistic chance of a finish in the Champions League positions, a prospect that would have seemed fanciful for a team that was widely tipped for relegation at the start of the season.

Europa League qualification will be Sheffield United’s target now, with seventh place possibly earning that reward if Manchester City, Manchester United or Chelsea win the FA Cup.