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Feature

Pakistanis in the County Championship: Rauf injured after five-for, Masood closes in on 1000

Mohammad Amir makes his first-class return and Hasan Ali bags another five-for

Matt Roller
Matt Roller
02-May-2022
Haris Rauf made early inroads against Kent  •  Getty Images

Haris Rauf made early inroads against Kent  •  Getty Images

The fourth round of the 2022 County Championship concluded on Sunday, with another strong showing from the Pakistan contingent. Here, we take a look at how they got on.

Division One

Mohammad Abbas
Mohammad Abbas has been relentless and consistent in his time as Hampshire's opening bowler and proved his value again this week, taking 3 for 59 in Lancashire's first innings with all three dismissals caught in the slips. He would not have been as pleased about his batting: he bagged a pair, including a first-innings lbw to compatriot Hasan Ali while leaving the ball alone.
Hasan Ali
Another week, another five-for. Hasan Ali struck twice with the new ball to reduce Hampshire to 40 for 5 against Lancashire at the Ageas Bowl, and returned to finish off the tail and ended with 5 for 45 from his 15 overs in the first innings.
He also belted a couple of sixes in an innings of 19 and then took 1 for 72 in the second before rain ensured the game was drawn. With 20 wickets at 15.35 in his three appearances to date, Hasan is the joint-highest wicket-taker alongside Craig Overton and Keith Barker.
Haris Rauf
Kent's top order were blown away by Haris Rauf in their first innings: he had the in-form Ben Compton caught behind, and then trapped Zak Crawley and Jack Leaning lbw to leave them 20 for 3. Jordan Cox counter-attacked with some streaky boundaries, top-edging pulls over the keeper and past long leg, but Rauf returned to finish with 5 for 65 from his 14 overs.
But his success came at a cost: he was unable to bowl in the second innings because of a left-side injury, which will rule him out of Yorkshire's fixture against Essex this week. "He's had a scan, and early suggestions are that it's not too bad," Ottis Gibson, their head coach, said. "Maybe with a week's rest and some work from the medical team, we'll get him back for next week."
Kent managed to cling on for a draw and Gibson suggested Rauf's injury had made the difference. "If we're being honest, had we had Haris today, it would have been a different outcome," he said.
Mohammad Amir
Returning to first-class cricket after a break of over two-and-a-half years, Mohammad Amir must have wondered why he had bothered. Playing his first match for Gloucestershire after signing as a short-term injury replacement for Naseem Shah, Amir found himself playing on a pitch that had 1046 runs scored and only 12 wickets falling across the first three days before rain wiped out the fourth. He went wicketless across 28 overs, but was the pick of the Gloucestershire attack and had Jamie Smith - who made a career-best 234 not out - dropped by James Bracey on 48.

Division Two

Shan Masood
It says something about Shan Masood's form that his aggregate of 102 runs in Derbyshire's draw against Glamorgan was his lowest in a match this season, while his scores of 60 and 42 were also the lowest of his stint to date. He came agonisingly close to breaking Nick Compton's record for the most runs scored in the month of April, eventually falling two runs short, but remains well-placed to become the first man since Graeme Hick in 1988 to reach 1000 first-class runs before the end of May.
Mohammad Rizwan
Mohammad Rizwan made a false start to his time at Sussex, scoring 22, 4 and 0 in his first three innings, but this was a welcome return to form. He put on 154 with Cheteshwar Pujara in a rare India-Pakistan batting partnership, giving Sussex a substantial first-innings lead before he fell for a fluent 79. As the game petered out into a draw on the final day, he even took his pads off and bowled a couple of overs of medium pace - though his more telling contribution was at slip, where he backpedalled and dived over his left shoulder to dismiss Scott Borthwick.
Shaheen Shah Afridi
Playing a first-class match at Lord's for the first time, Shaheen Shah Afridi took two wickets in two balls for Middlesex against Leicestershire before Louis Kimber jammed down on an inswinging yorker that would have given him his hat-trick. He finished with three wickets in each innings as Middlesex wrapped up a convincing ten-wicket win.
"It does help having Shaheen Afridi coming in as the No. 1 bowler in the world - that lifts everyone," Peter Handscomb, their captain, said. "He brings something different that we don't have which is incredible."
Azhar Ali
Azhar Ali's lean start to the season continued. After scores of 2, 1 and 20 in his first three innings for Worcestershire, he made 6 and 5 against a strong Nottinghamshire attack at Trent Bridge. In the first innings, he edged behind off Dane Paterson; in the second, he was caught at gully after being taken by surprise by Stuart Broad's extra bounce from a good length.

And the non-combatants...

Naseem Shah is on the comeback trail after suffering an injury on his Gloucestershire debut, while Mohammad Amir's arrival for three games has forced Zafar Gohar out of the side since counties are only allowed to pick two overseas players in their XIs and Marcus Harris is already locked in at the top of the order.

Matt Roller is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @mroller98