Shadab glad to see leg-spinners starring at WC

Pakistan’s Shadab Khan is glad he and his fellow leg-spinners from other teams are all making their presence felt at the World Cup. Shadab himself starred in Pakistan’s morale-boosting win over South Africa at Lord’s on Sunday that revived their flagging hopes of reaching the semi-finals.

The 20-year-old took 3-50 as Pakistan — who made an impressive 308-7 — restricted South Africa to 259-9 for their second win in six matches. For South Africa Imran Tahir, also a leg-spinner, took 2-41 in his 10 overs — a performance which Shadab said underlined the impact of leg-spinners at the World Cup.

“Imran bowled well in our innings so I thought that I will also get some help and grip and it turned out to be like that,” said Shadab. The fast-rising star was rated as Pakistan’s trump card by none other than World Cup-winning captain Imran Khan, now the country’s prime minister.

When Shadab dismissed South African opener, Quinton de Kock, it meant he had reached the landmark of 50 wickets in his 38th one-day international. And with the World Cup hopefully over the worst of the rain that has plagued the tournament’s early stages, Shadab said: “When there is dry weather and the pitch is also dry then leg-spin will come into the equation. That’s why I am happy to have played my part in the wins against South Africa and England,” said Shadab.

He dismissed Jason Roy and centurion Joe Root in Pakistan’s shock 14-run win against world number one and tournament hosts England. Besides Shadab, India’s Yuzvendra Chahal, Afghanistan’s Rashid Khan, Tahir, England’s Adil Rashid and Australia’s Adam Zampa are all leg-spinners.

Tahir, the oldest at this World Cup at 40, leads the spinners’ chart with ten wickets in seven games while Chahal has eight in four and Rashid seven in six matches. Pakistan, currently seventh on the table after two wins from six matches, still have a chance of breaking into the top four that will go into the semi-finals from the 10-team round-robin group phase.

Shadab admitted Pakistan were in a must-win situation in all their remaining three group matches, starting with Wednesday’s fixture against an in-form New Zealand in Birmingham. Pakistan also need to lift their inferior net run-rate besides hoping other results go their way.

“We need to win our remaining three matches to harbour any hopes of reaching the semi-finals, but the confidence is there so we will be taking it match by match.”