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Watch: 52-year-old Mushtaq Ahmed reprises old magic, sets up batter with wide before bowling him with a googly

Mushtaq Ahmed bowls Mohsin Abbas with a googly in Mega Stars League 2022/23
by Wisden Staff 3 minute read

Watch: In the Mega Stars League, 52-year-old Mushtaq Ahmed set up Mohsin Abbas with successive wide balls before bowling him with a googly.

At the time of his international debut, the teenage Mushtaq was widely known as the ‘Abdul Qadir clone’. He played 52 Test matches between 1989/90 and 2003/04, and his 185 wickets came at an average (32.97) almost identical to Qadir’s (32.80). Along with Shane Warne and Anil Kumble, he ensured the 1990s belonged as much to leg-spin as it did to pace bowling.

There were stints in England too, first for Somerset from 1993 to 1998, but more famously for Sussex from 2002 to 2008. He was the leading wicket-taker in the County Championship for five consecutive years, between 2003 and 2007. This included 103 wickets in 2003 and 102 in 2006 – the only two instances of a bowler reaching the 100-mark in the 21st Century. The Championship is over 13 decades old, but Sussex have won it only three times, in 2003, 2006, 2007 – when Mushtaq was in his pomp.


In a Twitter poll during the 2020 global lockdown, fans voted Mushtaq the greatest cricketer to have played for Sussex.

Yet, his playing days were over a decade behind him when he took field for the Pindi Boys against the Islamabad Royal in the Mega Stars League.

Mushtaq was bowling to Rana Naved-ul-Hasan in the fifth over of the innings. The Royal were 53-3. Mushtaq tossed up the second ball well outside off-stump. It turned away even further, and the umpire was forced to call a wide.

The next ball was outside off as well. It was pitched up, so Naved had a slog, and picked up a run from deep extra-cover. That brought Mohsin on strike.

The ball after that was very wide, yet again, too wide for Mohsin’s slog. The umpire signalled wide again. Little had Mohsin realised that the wily old man had been setting him up.

The next ball was closer to the stumps. Unlike the previous three balls, this was the googly – the devastating weapon that had got Mushtaq wickets by the bucketful in his heydays.

The ball was slow in the air, and Mohsin went for the slog. Unfortunately, he played for the leg-break. The googly shot through the gap between his bat and pad to hit the stumps.

Mohsin, realising he had been outfoxed, could do little but break into a grin of acknowledgment. He bowed in front of the maestro with folded hands. Mushtaq hugged him before he left.

Watch Mushtaq Ahmed’s trademark googly here:


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