Well bowled!


Ajaz Yunus Patel of New Zealand has become the only third player in the history of cricket to achieve a perfect 10 in a Test innings. Indian-origin Ajaz bagged 10 wickets for 119 runs with his left-arm spin in the second game of the two-Test rubber against India being played in Mumbai. Interestingly, Ajaz was also born in Mumbai and emigrated to New Zealand with his family in 1996 when he was just eight. So Ajaz, in a way, performed the rare feat at his hometown.

Ajaz joined England’s right arm off-spinner Jim Laker (who picked up 10 for 53 against Australia in 1956) and Indian leg spin legend Anil Kumble (who returned figures of 10 for 74 against Pakistan in 1999) in the exclusive Perfect 10 Club. Interestingly, the coveted club remains spinners-only. What makes Ajaz’s feat even more special is that it came in an away Test – as against Laker and Kumble performing it in home matches. Moreover, Ajaz’s all-ten happened in the first innings on days one and two of the game while Laker did it in the third innings, and Kumble in the fourth – when the wicket is more conducive for bowling. In the process, Ajaz also surpassed Sir Richard Hadlee’s 9 for 52 – against Australia in 1985 – to become the bowler with best figures for New Zealand.

Records are meant to be broken, but the one under discussion can only be equaled. Well, if the runs conceded can be a criterion for any sort of ranking within the elite Perfect 10 Club, then Laker tops the list followed by Kumble and Ajaz. But then there are other factors – the type of dismissals, for instance – that provide an edge to one on another. Having played 10 Tests – as well as 7 T20Is – Ajaz must have cemented his place in the New Zealand squad by dint of his fine performance in the Mumbai Test. The exciting game of cricket expects more from this talented cricketer.

 

Published in The Express Tribune, December 6th, 2021.

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