Who is Bilal Asif, Pakistan’s latest spin sensation?
Pakistan is known for producing match-winning bowlers and Bilal Asif has continued that tradition by bagging six wickets in his debut Test innings. At Dubai, the little-known spinner claimed six wickets against Australia to stun the cricket world.
Australia were placed at one down for 160 runs when Bilal ran in and triggered a horrific collapse for Australia in which the team lost all of their remaining nine wickets for just 42 runs. The left-arm spinner finished with figures of six for 36 to stamp his name in record books.
Cricket in the family for Bilal
The sport of cricket has been a familiar entity for Bilal’s family. His uncle, Zahid Saeed is a prominent domestic cricketer who was known for his left-arm pace bowling. Also the closest big city from Bilal’s village, Sialkot is known for producing domestic cricketers.
— ICC (@ICC) October 9, 2018
The early lost opportunity in 2004
During India’s historic tour of Pakistan in 2004, the left-arm spinner was included in the list of 22 probables for a training camp. An impressive performance would have booked a place in Pakistan’s national team, but Bilal failed to create any impact and was soon forgotten.
To Sialkot via Kuwait
The lack of opportunities forced Bilal to leave cricket and he went to Kuwait in 2008 to help his father who works as an electrician.
However, the cricketer in him never settled down and Bilal returned to Pakistan in 2010 to pursue a career in this game. He made his first-class debut in 2011 for Sialkot and made a name or himself in the national circuit by picking 17 first-class wickets in 2014-15 at an average of 27.35.
This impressive performance earned him a place in Pakistan’s ODI team against Zimbabwe in 2015. In his first ODI, he was dismissed for zero and failed to pick any wickets. But in his second ODI, he claimed five wickets for 25 runs and scored 38 runs.
However, the emergence of Yasir Shah and Shadab Khan prolonged Bilal’s entry into Test cricket but when the opportunity came, the spinner grabbed it with both hands.