Watch: In the second innings of the Multan Test match, Abdullah Shafique held on to an outstanding catch at short-leg to send Joe Root back to the dressing room for 21.
England were in a comfortable position in their second Test match against Pakistan, having secured a 79-run first-innings lead on a pitch that offered turn from day one. They then slipped to 25-2 in the second innings before Ben Duckett (79) and Joe Root (21) added 54 at a brisk pace. From there, debutant leg-spinner Abrar Ahmed (7-114 and 1-21 in the Test match at that point) came on to bowl to Root.
The former England captain moved slightly outside the off-stump, half-kneeling, almost certainly setting himself up for a sweep or slog-sweep through the vacant leg side. Abrar adjusted the line to outside off and held the length back a bit. Instead of leaving or defending the ball, Root decided to adjust his stroke to a horizontal-batted semi-sweep.
At backward short-leg, Shafique stayed low. Given the nature of the stroke, it was extremely difficult for him to fathom the direction the ball would be headed for – he might have had to dive to his left or right or even at him – so he ensured he retained his balance throughout, which meant he was ready for the perfect dive the moment the direction of the ball became obvious.
It eventually went to his left, his wrong side (he bowls right-arm), but Shafique’s wait had prepared him for the perfect dive. He held the catch to send Root back, albeit after the now-mandatory formality of the television umpire. It was a catch for the coaching manuals.
England were eventually bowled out for 275 on the third day, setting Pakistan a target of 355. Abrar finished with 4-120, which gave him a match haul of 11-234. He became the second Pakistan player, after Mohammad Zahid (11-130) and 14th overall to take an 11 wicket haul on debut in men’s Test cricket.
Watch Abdullah Shafique’s brilliant catch here:
𝙎𝙚𝙣𝙨𝙖𝙩𝙞𝙤𝙣𝙖𝙡 𝙘𝙖𝙩𝙘𝙝 𝙗𝙮 𝘼𝙗𝙙𝙪𝙡𝙡𝙖𝙝 𝙎𝙝𝙖𝙛𝙞𝙦𝙪𝙚 🤯
— Pakistan Cricket (@TheRealPCB) December 10, 2022