India have named a four-pronged spin attack for the Tests, boasting of variety in their armoury with off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin, left-arm spinners Ravindra Jadeja and Axar Patel, along with the left-arm wrist spin of Kuldeep Yadav in their ranks.
The start of the first Test between Pakistan and New Zealand in Karachi produced a never-seen-before feat in 145 years of history of Men’s Test cricket when the first two wickets of the hosts fell to stumpings.
As Abdullah Shafique and Shan Masood were stumped by Tom Blundell in the first session, it produced a feat which had never been seen before in Men’s Test cricket – stumpings being the first two modes of dismissals in the longest format of the game.
Newly-appointed New Zealand skipper Tim Southee introduced veteran left-arm spinner Ajaz Patel into the attack in just the fourth over of the day and the move paid dividends almost immediately as Shafique was out stumped by Blundell for seven.
Then just three overs later the Kiwis had their second and it was Masood that perished this time, with the left-hander stumped by Blundell off the bowling of off-spin all-rounder Michael Bracewell.
It was just the second time it had occurred overall, with the Women’s Test match between Australia and the West Indies in Jamaica in 1976 also commencing with two stumping dismissals.
Bracewell then went on to dismiss the usually reliable left-handed batter Imam-ul-Haq shortly after — the Pakistan opener was out caught — giving New Zealand an excellent start to the Test match and to the series.
But Pakistan captain Babar Azam stood tall to hit 54 not out by lunch, with the hosts at 129/4, with veteran wicketkeeper-batter Sarfaraz Ahmed at the crease. Earlier, Ahmed earned a recall in what is his first Test on home soil in his 50th appearance in the longest format of the game.
Ahmed had last played a Test match, against South Africa in January 2019, and is now back for the Karachi Test, with fellow wicketkeeper-batter Mohammad Rizwan making way for him in the playing eleven. Pakistan has also included left-arm fast bowler Mir Hamza, who played his only Test way back in 2018 against Australia.