MELBOURNE: Yasir Shah, Pakistan legspinner, took the blame on himself for setting a six-three leg-side field as Australia plundered 624 runs at a run-rate of 4.39 in the first innings of the second Test at the Melbourne Cricket Ground to gain the upper hand even as a lot of overs were lost due to rain. Pakistan made 443 runs before declaring their first innings, but were bowled out for 163 in the second to hand Australia an innings and 18-run win, and also concede 2-0 lead to the hosts in the three-match series. Yasir, himself proved expensive as he conceded 207 runs at an economy of over five. Apart from the fact that he bowled too many full-tosses, the six-three field also drew a lot of criticism from the pundits. “It was my mistake,” Yasir told Fox Sports on Monday (January 2). “I bowled with a five-four field and, yes, as a bowler I take responsibility in setting my fields. In hindsight it was a wrong decision. “I think I bowled too many full tosses and short balls… At the MCG because of the rain, there were no dry patches and not enough rough to work with. I’m working in the nets to bowl in one channel and improve my action.” Yasir, who is currently ranked 12th in ICC Test Rankings for bowlers and also the joint fastest to the 100 Test wicket-mark, has taken quick strides in international cricket. He has taken wickets in bulk and become Pakistan’s go-to bowler despite an array of fine pacers. Given his success at the international level, there were also comparisons with the legendary Shane Warne.
However, Yasir himself was effusive in praise of the spin legend and share the advice given to him. “He always tells me how to stay calm as a legspinner and be patient in taking wickets,” Yasir said. “He spoke about my pace and how I should be bowling slower than I bowl in the UAE, around the 83-84 mph mark. “He also suggested that giving some loop will help me get more purchase in the wicket,” he added. “Warne has asked me to develop my googly using the same action, he said if you change your action then there are more chances of losing control over your bowling.” Both the sides are expected to play two spinners in their line-up as the Sydney Cricket Ground pitch is expected to aid the tweakers for the last couple of days. While Australia are set to field Nathan Lyon and Steve O’Keefe, Pakistan are expected to play the uncapped slow left-armer Mohammad Asghar. Praising Asghar, he said, “I think he is a very good spinner, I was impressed by his bowling at the PSL.(He) bowled with a lot of courage and the batsmen who have played him rate him highly.” He also added that Pakistan will bounce back in the series and win the game of spin against the hosts. “Our batsmen tend to play spin very well. My focus is on my performance. I always want to add value with the ball and I will look to bowl well and contribute towards the team.” Even as both the Tests in the series witnessed exciting final days of play, with Pakistan displaying contrasting standards in Brisbane and Melbourne, the series has already gone in Australia’s favour. The teams will be travelling to the Sydney Cricket Ground for the final Test with nothing but pride to play for, for Pakistan. “It is disappointing to lose the series, but we have everything to play for. We want to make winning a habit, we were number one last year for a brief period, but it is important we win this test so that it motivates us for the next test series.”