Pakistan vs England, 2nd Test, Multan – Ben Duckett

Ben Duckett described Abrar Ahmed as “basically a legspinner who has a good googly” and hinted that England will look to go even harder against him in the second innings, after the Pakistan debutant took 7 for 114 in 22 overs on the first day in Multan.

Duckett, who made 63 off 49, was the second of Abrar’s seven victims and scored 25 runs off the 18 balls he faced from the spinner, sweeping and reverse-sweeping him for four boundaries. Despite Abrar’s success, he said that England’s batters had managed to pick him out of the hand and that there was “no real mystery” to his unusual, front-of-the-hand style.

“I can only talk individually and I obviously had my plans for him,” Duckett told Sky Sports. “He was basically a legspinner who had a good googly; there was no real mystery to it. He bowled beautifully today and I’m sure we’ll have our plans in the second innings – but I’m pretty sure that we won’t be blocking it.

“I think I swept about 90% [of the time] and when you’re sweeping, you don’t tend to necessarily look for it, but his googly was a lot slower. In general, most of the guys actually said they did pick him. I think he just bowled some nice deliveries and unfortunately for us, it was his day.

“There was limited footage, mainly on him bowling in the nets here, and not much to left-handers. Personally, I’d rather not know all of his tricks because I’d be worried and thinking about what he can do. I’d rather focus on what I can do to him and when you’re looking to sweep – and he generally bowls quite slow – it doesn’t really matter which way it’s turning.”

Duckett said that England’s management – led by captain Ben Stokes and coach Brendon McCullum – were “very happy” with a first-innings total of 281 all out in 51.4 overs, and said that they had realised how big a role spin would play in the match as soon as Faheem Ashraf had found some grip with his offcutter in the fifth over.

“We’re a couple of quick wickets away from it being our day so we’ll have to see in the morning, but I think we’re pretty happy overall,” he said. “Today was about assessing those conditions early and as soon as the seamer bowled that slower ball, it was clear that it was going to spin. I think the game is going to move forward pretty quick. If we can keep them to around our score – anything less is a bonus – I think it should be really hard work in the fourth innings.

“We prepared for this pitch and we knew that they wanted it to spin. We just didn’t know how early it would happen. My approach was, I think, pretty obvious. I said to myself I was going to sweep both ways and I’d much rather get out playing that shot than a forward defence.

“You know what Stokesy and Baz are like: they’re so positive. We were actually really happy at lunch. A lot of teams might have been quite tentative and you could have easily been 100 for 5 or 6 at lunch, but I think the rate we scored at, they’re pretty happy with 280. I think it’ll be an exciting game – I hope it keeps spinning.”

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