He was 26 when he made his first-class debut. He had to wait until 2015 to make an International debut. After three appearances then, he got the next International opportunity now. And how well has Bilal Asif responded?
After having spent the first day at the dressing room doing nothing, Bilal got his first opportunity on day two. That was to bat and he scored 12 runs. At one point on the third day, Australia was looking well set to overcome Pakistan’s first innings score or at least get close to it at 160/1 trailing by 282 runs. That’s when Bilal started running riot through the Australian batting line-up.
His off-breaks seemed hot to handle for the Aussies. Shaun Marsh was the first one to fall for Bilal. Seeing a tossed up delivery Shaun couldn’t resist driving against the spin and was caught by Shafiq. Khawaja was the next as the attempted sweep ended up in Imam Ul Haq’s hands. Two debutants were on the firing line next. Bilal got Travis Head caught at slip and Labuschagne at short leg.
Tim Paine was also caught out at short leg; a debut fifer for Bilal. Mohammed Abbas picked out Starc and the returning Peter Siddle. Nathan Lyon, who is also said to be involved in the infamous sandpaper-gate was Bilal’s 6th wicket, again caught off the sweep.
Bilal is already 33. But it’s never too late for a spinner in International cricket. Herath and Tahir are just two examples. And with Pakistan’s tests happening mostly at the UAE, chances of Bilal not being a success are less.