Adil Rashid ready to ‘be that England wicket-taker’

Rashid is expected to operate as one of two spinners, the other being Moeen Ali

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Adil Rashid insists he is ready for Test cricket and is relishing the prospect of playing a leading role in the forthcoming three-Test series against Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates.

The 27-year-old Yorkshire leg-spinner has been told by Trevor Bayliss, England’s coach, to prepare for his Test debut during the series that starts in Abu Dhabi a week tomorrow. And six years after making his one-day international debut, Rashid now feels he can make a major impact in Test cricket after waiting patiently for his chance.

“It’s quite a big game for me,” he said of the opening two-day warm-up match against Pakistan A, the first of two, which starts in Sharjah today. 

“I hope I can go out there and do the things I do for Yorkshire – keeping it simple and looking to attack. That’s what I’m planning to do if I get the call later as well [in the Test series]. I feel ready, as if my game is coming along.

“My job is to get in the team to create chances and be that wicket-taker. I’m looking to be aggressive and positive. 

“I’m there as a strike bowler. My aim is to go out there, enjoy it, create chances, be attacking and let everything else take care of itself. I’ve got a clear mindset and I’m not really looking to take any pressure in.”

Rashid is expected to operate as one of two spinners, the other being Moeen Ali, who is also likely to become captain Alastair Cook’s seventh partner at the top of the batting order since the retirement of Andrew Strauss in 2012. 

That year also saw England, led by Strauss, play their only previous Test series in the Emirates, the neutral venue that has become Pakistan’s second home since they were forced to host teams outside their own country following the Lahore terror attack on the Sri Lanka team bus in 2009.

England, who had risen to the top of the world Test rankings, were then whitewashed 3-0, bamboozled by the spin of Saeed Ajmal and Abdur Rehman. 

That pair are no longer playing for Pakistan, having struggled to rediscover their previous form after serving bans. In their place will be Yasir Shah and Zulfiqar Baba, who destroyed Australia in the Gulf last autumn with a combined 26 wickets, inspiring Pakistan to a 2-0 series win.

England hope Rashid and Moeen will allow them to fight fire with fire on the slow, low surfaces of the Emirates. They will get their first opportunity today to show what they can do together.

Bayliss, the homespun Australian who has worked wonders since taking over the England team on the eve of what turned out to be a triumphant Ashes series, has had a major impact on Rashid, whose confidence has soared on the back of positive performances in one-day cricket against New Zealand and Australia in the summer.

“Trevor’s always given me that backing and confidence, especially around the one-day side and in the nets,” Rashid said. “He’s always talking to me and giving me that backing. He has given me a real confidence boost.”

As for that potential Test debut? “It will be a special moment for me,” says Rashid.

Now all he has to do is perform well this week to ensure that long-held dream becomes a reality.