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Yasir Shah vs. Abrar Ahmed: Who Should Pakistan Pick for England Test Series?

Pakistan is all set to host England for a three-match Test Series beginning on December 1 at the National Stadium Karachi. It will be the first time in the last 17 years that England will play red-ball cricket in Pakistan.

The series is important for Babar XI because it is part of the ICC World Test Championship, and this series, along with the two-match Test series with New Zealand, can lead them to the final if they produce good results.

The all-format captain, Babar Azam, will take a keen interest in the selection of spinners, particularly leg-break bowlers, as nothing will be more impactful in home conditions than the wrist spinners.

Pakistan currently has two leg-break bowling options in the form of the experienced Yasir Shah and young Abrar Ahmed, who has made headlines for his outstanding performance in the domestic circuit in the recent past.

Yasir is regarded as one of the best leg-spinners in the world, having led Pakistan to victory on his own in the Lord’s Test in 2016, where he took a 10-wicket haul.

His statistics against England also strengthen his case for inclusion in the playing 11 in the upcoming series, as the 36-year-old has 45 wickets in eight Test matches at an average of 32.55, with a best of 10/144 (in a match).

However, his performance at home has been disappointing, as the right-arm spinner has played four matches in Pakistan and taken 14 wickets at an average of 36.50, with the best figures of 4/58.

Yasir Shah’s performance in 2022 is also not impressive. He has played two Tests and taken nine wickets, while his performance in the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy 2022/23 is also not good as he has taken 14 wickets in six matches.

Tournament/Series  Matches  Wicket  Average 
Against England 9 45 32.55
In Pakistan 4 14 36.50
In 2022 2 9 39.00
In Quaid-e-Azam Trophy 2022 6 14 40.21

Abrar Ahmed, on the other hand, is a strong candidate to make the playing eleven in the Test series against England due to his outstanding performance in both white and red-ball cricket this year.

The right-arm spinner was named to the 15-member squad for the T20I series against England at home earlier this year based on his performance in the national T20 and KPL, but he did not make the playing eleven.

The 24-year-old rose to prominence after demonstrating his talent in the second edition of the Kashmir Premier League (KPL), finishing as the tournament’s fourth-leading wicket-taker with seven wickets in five games.

The youngster also performed admirably during the recently concluded Pakistan National T20 Cup 2022, taking 10 wickets in eight matches at an average of 22.80 and helping Sindh to the title.

Abrar is also the leading wicket wicket-taker in the ongoing Quaid-e-Azam Trophy 2022/23, having taken 43 wickets in six matches at an average of 21.41. He has taken five 5-fers and one 10-wicket haul.

 Tournament Matches  Wickets  Average 
Quaid-e-Azam Trophy 2022/23 6 43 21.41
National T20 Cup 8 10 22.80
Kashmir Premier League 5 7 16.14

Although National T20 Cup and Kashmir Premier League are no criteria to judge a bowler’s abilities in the longer format, Abrar has carried his form from the two events and is now rattling opposition batters in the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy.

It would be a difficult decision for the selectors, however, Abrar looks set to make his Test debut in the coming series that starts on December 1.

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