Mohammad Abbas was a surprise omission from the Pakistan XI for the first Test of their series against Australia.
Since his Test debut in 2017, no bowler with more than 25 Test wickets in that period has a bowling average less than Abbas’ 18.86. He was left out of the side as Pakistan opted to include Shaheen Afridi, the 16-year-old Naseem Shah and Imran Khan, who plays his first Test since January 2017.
Prior to the series, Steve Smith had warned Australia’s batsmen to be “really disciplined” against Abbas. During the last series between the two teams in 2018, Abbas was in devastating form, taking 17 wickets at 10.58 as Pakistan won 1-0 in the UAE.
Pakistan have left out their metronomic seamer Mohammad Abbas. Since 2005 – and the start of the CricViz ball-tracking database – only one seam bowler has bowled a higher proportion of balls on a good line & length than Abbas. Will Pakistan miss his accuracy? #AUSvPAK pic.twitter.com/yl3XBMLacS
— The CricViz Analyst (@cricvizanalyst) November 20, 2019
Speaking at the toss, Pakistan skipper Azhar Ali said: “It was difficult to leave out Mohammad Abbas but sometimes form can take over. We know he’s very good and our No.1 bowler but at the moment these three pacers are doing the job and we picked them.”
While Abbas’ record in Test cricket since his debut is phenomenal, his first-class record since the start of July is less than spectacular. In six first-class outings, three for Leicestershire in the County Championship and three for Southern Punjab in the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy in Pakistan, Abbas’ 11 wickets have come at an average of 51.
Pakistan have not played a Test match in over 10 months. In their last series in South Africa at the turn of the year, Abbas was the least effective of any seamer on either side with his wickets coming at 46.20 runs apiece in what was generally a low-scoring series. It should be noted though that Abbas was returning from a shoulder problem that had ruled him out of two Tests midway through that series.