Watch: Part-timer Luke Wells, who averaged 44.68 with the ball coming into Lancashire’s clash against Somerset, produced a beauty to dismiss Pakistan great Azhar Ali as part of a match-turning spell in the County Championship game.
The pitch was hardly turning square, with highly rated leg-spinner Matt Parkinson on the receiving end of an assault from opener Tom Lammonby, who raced to a hundred at better than a run a ball. Lancs captain Dane Vilas turned to Wells, who had taken first-class wickets at a rate of under one every two games before today, and the occasional twirler immediately struck gold, taking three wickets in quick-time, including two in his first over.
There was an element of fortune about each of those, with observers on social media questioning an lbw decision given against Lammonby, suggesting he might have been struck outside the line, while Somerset captain Tom Abell clipped a full toss tamely to midwicket for his second duck of the game.
But there was nothing lucky about his dismissal of Azhar. The former Pakistan Test captain made a superb hundred in England against England last year, and has a triple-century on the spin-friendly surfaces of the UAE to his name, but had no answer to a beauty from Wells, a sharp-turning leg-break beating his bat as he groped forward, with Alex Davies behind the stumps whipping off the bails.
Replays confirmed that Azhar’s foot had been dragged out of its ground, and that the delivery really was a lovely one.
It was an important wicket for Lancashire too. Somerset had been made to follow on, skittled for 90 in reply to the away side’s 373, but made a better fist of their second dig. Lammonby made exactly 100 and Azhar exactly 50, but heading to stumps on 226-4, still trailing by 57 runs, they are behind the game heading into day three.
Watch the Wells beauty to Azhar below:
— Wisden (@WisdenCricket) September 13, 2021