Pakistan spinner Bilal Asif made a memorable Test debut at Dubai International Cricket Stadium, as he took his maiden six-wicket haul in Test cricket to help the host to take a substantial lead on Day 3 of the first Test against Australia on Tuesday (October 9).
With the feat, Asif became the third spinner in the history of Pakistan cricket after Mohammad Nazir and Shahid Afridi to complete a five-wicket haul on Test debut.
The 33-year-old off-spinner was all smiles, as his 6-36 set Australia collapse from 142-0 to 202 all out in their first innings, as Pakistan managed to take an extensive 280-run lead into their second dig before losing three-wickets with a massive 325 runs lead at stumps in Dubai.
It was his first international encounter after a period of nearly three years and Bilal made it even more special with his fantastic show with the ball, aiming to continue his roar with his basics.
As per reports in Sport 360, Asif told reporters after the match, “First of all, thanks to God that everything went well. I am feeling very good. I was just trying to do well and stay with my basics. It has been a very good debut and I will try my best to build on this and keep performing for Pakistan.”
The Sialkot-born man became only the third spinner in Pakistan history after Mohammad Nazir and Shahid Afridi to complete a five-wicket haul on debut.
He further went on to mention his teammates for their support and encouragement after he went wicketless in the morning session. Asif explained, “Being a debutant, of course, there is pressure. In the first session, I wasn’t feeling well because I did not bowl as well. However, my team-mates were very supporting and encouraging and gave me the confidence to perform. I kept all these things on the side and focused on my bowling and in the end, God helped me.”
Meanwhile, Asif has dedicated his performance to Pakistan great and current spin bowling coach Mushtaq Ahmed, as well as, credited for helping him fight his way back into the national team.
He further added, “I attended many camps in the NCA and I would like to thank Mushy Bhai (Mushtaq Ahmed) for my performance since he has been working hard with me for the last three years. Now that I have got the reward, all the credit goes to Mushy Bhai. I have been struggling for the last few years. I made my debut against Zimbabwe in 2015 and it has taken three years for me to come back. It has been a long time. I was working very hard in the National Cricket Academy (NCA) and the guys there really helped me. Now I am here, I am very happy.”
Asif signed off by saying, “See, being a professional cricketer, you have to be strong mentally. I never doubted myself. I just wanted to keep up my hard work. Whether I got a chance or not is not something I can control. Performance and getting a chance is all down to God. My only job is only working hard. I made a lot of efforts in the two-three years after I was out of the team.”