DUBAI: The Pakistani fast bowler’s curse has struck once again, an injured shoulder almost certain to rule Mohammad Abbas out of Pakistan’s deciding Test against New Zealand next week, but also potentially the South Africa tour next month, reported Cricinfo.
Abbas injured his right shoulder diving in the field during Pakistan’s innings win against New Zealand in Dubai. He played through the Test with painkillers but a shoulder scan on Wednesday has prompted fears about the nature of the injury. The results have been sent to a shoulder specialist but the team’s early assessments suggest he could be out for anywhere between three weeks and four months.
The injury might help explain the muted nature of his impact in the second innings, although that was the third innings in a row in this series he had gone without a wicket. That brief drought – and the second innings in the first Test in Abu Dhabi last week was the first time he had gone wicketless in a Test innings – stands in stark contrast to the riches of his career since his debut last year, a time in which he has swiftly become Pakistan’s main fast-bowling weapon on any surface he has come across.
Since his debut Abbas has helped Pakistan win Tests in the West Indies, Ireland, England and, most recently and explosively, in the UAE, where he became the first Pakistani fast bowler in 12 years to take ten wickets in a Test. Seventeen wickets in the two Tests against Australia – and 61 overall in 12 – saw him break a number of records and soar up the ICC’s Test rankings chart, prompting Dale Steyn no less to tweet: “I see a new number 1 Test bowler coming… Mohammad Abbas”.
Whether Steyn will have an opportunity to see him up close during Pakistan’s three-Test series that begins next month is unclear. Pakistan will wait for a diagnosis from the shoulder specialist, but it is feared Abbas may have suffered a SLAP (Superior Labrum Anterior and Posterior) lesion in his right shoulder as a result of his dive.
In the short term, Abbas’s injury might pave the way for a debut for Shaheen Afridi, the young left-arm fast bowler who has burst into the national side with such impressive results this season. In the slightly longer-term perspective of the South Africa tour, Pakistan will worry about the specifics of the medical condition, of course, but not as much as they will lament the potential absence of their most potent fast-bowling weapon in years in a country and on surfaces where he could reasonably be expected to thrive.
In either case, an injury to as important a part of his bowling anatomy will raise for Pakistani fans the spectre once again of a long line of fast bowlers of the recent past, gifted with ball in hand but blighted by career-changing injuries or cursed by any range of disciplinary issues.