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Yasir Shah has only just recuperated from a hipbone injury, and is feeling his way back in since returning to full fitness after the series against Australia.

Here in Dubai, with Pakistan needing to lift their game by several notches to level the series, he quickly understood the need to play a key role in giving his side a big lead. At the end of the third day, he had just completed his third ten-wicket haul in Tests.

Astonishingly, he barely needed two sessions to get there. On either side of lunch on Monday, his spells of dazzling unplayability scythed through New Zealand in little over an hour; 83 balls separating the fall of Jeet Raval’s wicket, the first of the innings, to Trent Boult, the last. Yasir finished with 8 for 41, not to mention a run-out he played a major, if fortuitous, role in.

“When I came [here] in the morning, I was thinking that I had to take 10 wickets in the match,” Yasir said. “I didn’t know that I would end up taking 10 wickets in a day. Now, I will try to help the team get those eight [second-innings] wickets as quickly as we can.”

The other two came in the second innings with New Zealand following on. Raval was deceived in flight to be stumped, while Kane Williamson, the one batsman who had stood up to Pakistan in the first innings, received a pearler, a vicious side-spinner extracting a thin outside edge.

“Of course I had a plan for each batsman, because every batsman has got their own weakness and strengths,” he said. “Against Australia, I was getting my rhythm back slowly because I was just coming back from injury. You need time to get your rhythm after an injury. Today, I bowled really well. I had worked hard in training. I think that’s one of the reasons. I bowled well in the last Test as well.”

He conceded being the lead spinner in spin-friendly conditions added to the pressure on him. “Sometimes you do feel the pressure here. because spinners get more wickets. So everyone expects you to take wickets. So you need to work even harder.”

He would not be drawn into discussions about whether he was among the best spin bowlers in the world currently. He insisted he was merely concentrating on improving his game to help his side win matches. Even so, the statistics make for some very flattering reading.

Since Yasir made his debut, only two spinners, R Ashwin and Nathan Lyon, have taken more wickets than his 191. But they have both played significantly more matches than his 32, with Ashwin laying claim to 229 wickets from 43 matches, and Lyon 206 from 47. It is exalted company to keep, but Yasir isn’t allowing himself to get carried away.

“It happens in cricket [having very successful days]. It’s part of the game. Sometimes you don’t get wickets even when you bowl well. Sometimes obviously you don’t bowl too well, but you get to learn from that.”

Pakistan still need eight wickets before they can level the series against New Zealand, and if history is anything to go by, they will lean heavily on Yasir to help take them. There is no time for the world’s leading legspinner to put his feet up just yet.

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