Zahid Mahmood, a 34-year-old leg-spinner, was one of four Test debutants for Pakistan in the opening game of their home series against England.
It’s a debut that has been a long time coming for the leggie from Sind. However, despite Mahmood’s age, he doesn’t have a wealth of experience to his name, with just 56 first-class appearances to speak of since he made his debut in the format in 2009.
Zahid Mahmood does, however, have international experience, having played for Pakistan in four ODIs and a single T20I. He made his T20I debut against South Africa last year taking 3-40 across his four overs. His four ODIs came this year against Australia and the Netherlands. On debut against Australia, he claimed the wickets of both Aaron Finch and Alex Carey.
His inclusion hasn’t been without some controversy, however. In the Quaid-e-Azam trophy this year he took just 13 wickets at an average of 45.76 whilst boasting a career first-class bowling average of 37.45. His career economy rate in first-class cricket 3.81 runs per over. This is compared to the likes of Yasir Shah, Zafar Gohar, Sajid Khan, Abrar Ahmed and Nauman Ali whose first-class averages all sit below 30. Ahmed was Mahmood’s direct competitor for a spot in the XI. The 24-year-old bespectacled leg-spinner was the standout bowler in the Quaid-e-Azam trophy, claiming 43 wickets at 21.95 – no other bowler took more than 31 wickets in the competition. Ahmed turned heads with his trademark googly, a delivery with which he claimed the majority of his dismissals.
Mahmood’s first day in Test cricket was a chastening experience as he came up against and England duo in Ben Duckett and Zak Crawley with a thirst for runs. Duckett, in particular, targeted Zahid Mahmood as he swept or reverse swept four of the spinners first six deliveries in Test cricket, sending two of them to the boundary.
At lunch, Mahmood’s figures read 5-0-40-0 and the treatment continued after the break as he was mercilessly targeted with 24 more runs coming off his next four overs.
Zahid Mahmood would finally find some joy when he got Duckett lbw for his maiden Test wicket, with Duckett missing his trusty reverse sweep as the ball hit him in front of all three.
Whilst it was Mahmood’s debut, he has been in several Test squads in recent times and was potentially in line for debuts against Australia, West Indies and Bangladesh. However, he has had to wait until now, to finally make his debut.