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.


Lin Dan retirement ends era of ‘Chinese sports superstar’

Updated 08 July 2020

Lin Dan retirement ends era of ‘Chinese sports superstar’

  • The era of the superstar that once belonged to Chinese sports has faded

SHANGHAI: The retirement of two-time Olympic champion Lin Dan signals the end of a golden era of Chinese sporting superstars, state media said on Tuesday.

Arguably the greatest badminton player of all time, the 36-year-old said on Saturday that he was bringing the curtain down on a career that also brought five world titles.

NBA All-Star Yao Ming, Olympic gold-medal hurdler Liu Xiang and two-time tennis Grand Slam champion Li Na have all retired in the last decade.

“With the ‘Super Dan’ curtain call, people cannot help but sigh,” Xinhua news agency said.

“The era of the superstar that once belonged to Chinese sports has faded.

“When will the next Lin Dan appear? Or when will the next Yao Ming, Liu Xiang and Li Na appear?

“Where is the next Chinese sports superstar who will create a collective memory for us?”

The quartet were not just world leaders in their sport and popular in China, but also had “considerable influence in the international arena and became a window for the world to understand China,” Xinhua said.

Of prominent Chinese athletes left, women’s volleyball player Zhu Ting has the potential to rise to superstar level, Xinhua said, while disgraced swimmer Sun Yang “enjoys high popularity (in China), but unfortunately he is banned.” 

The 28-year-old is appealing against an 8-year ban for refusing to give a doping sample. The three-time Olympic freestyle champion’s career will effectively be over if he loses his appeal at the Swiss Federal Tribunal.

China has world champions in other sports, and finished third behind the US and Britain in the medal table at the Rio 2016 Olympics, but they are not generally well-known even inside the country, Xinhua said.

Table tennis player Zhang Jike, another three-time Olympic gold medalist, deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as Lin, said the Oriental Sports Daily.

But at 32 his best days are behind him and as far back as 2016 he signaled his intention to retire, before having a change of heart.

“When will the next Lin Dan and China’s next sports superstar appear again?” asked the newspaper.

“This question may not be answered in a short space of time.”