1st Test, Dubai: Test spearhead Mohammad Abbas out to make Pakistan pace history
Mohammad Abbas stunned Australia late on day four in Dubai. @Getty

In a Test career that began in April 2017 with a second-ball wicket, Pakistan pace bowler Mohammad Abbas has seen several highs. On Wednesday in Dubai, day four of the first Test between Pakistan and Australia, Abbas nipped out three wickets without a run conceded to jolt Australia late in the day and leave them at 136/3 with a full day to play.

These swift strikes have put Abbas on 49 career wickets in his ninth Test match, and he is now one short of levelling with team-mate Yasir Shah as the fastest Pakistan bowler to reach 50. Speaking to reporters after the fourth day’s play, Abbas said he his goal was to make history as a Pakistan pacer.

“I wanted to be the quickest fast bowler [from Pakistan] to fifty Test wickets,” he said. “Yasir bhai has the record for the quickest, but my eyes are on the record for the pace bowlers. I have checked that from Pakistan it is Waqar  [Younis] bhai, [Mohammad] Asif bhai, and Shabbir [Ahmed] bhai in 10 matches. I want to better their record. I have one wicket left and I will try to take it tomorrow.”

The three names taken by Abbas each slot into different levels of Pakistan’s rich history of pace. Waqar is, of course, an all-time legend and second on his country’s list of Test wickets with 373 from 97 matches. Shabbir drew level with Waqar in getting to 50 wickets in his tenth Test but that was as far as his career went – 51 wickets from ten Tests.

Asif made heads turn when he debuted in 2005, with his swing proving captivating and devastating on several occasions in Tests across the globe. However, his off-field controversies culminated in a ban for spot-fixing and a career that promised greater achievement than 106 wickets in 23 Tests was cut off.

Abbas, 28, looks set to go well past the gangly Shabbir and should have his sights set on surpassing Asif. He has proven a potent force for Pakistan in his nine Tests – he took six each in his second and third matches as West Indies were beaten 2-1, then bowled his team to a famous win in England this summer after taking eight in Ireland’s debut Test. He currently has seven in the Dubai Test, his 4/29 contributing to a record Australian collapse of 10/60 in the second innings after an opening stand of 142 and now 3/26 off 11 overs to tear a hole in their top order with Aaron Finch (49) and the Marsh brothers out for zero in a crippling spell of reverse swing.

“A player should know his strengths,” said Abbas off his success. “I try to take wickets with the new ball. If the conditions are like the ones here, I try to bowl at my line and length and put a lid on the flow of runs. When the ball starts to reverse, I attack the opposition. I mould myself according to situation.

“Like in England, I was Man of the Series there. I know that I am the main bowler of the Test side. So, I try to challenge myself to better my previous best performances.”