Pakistan paceman Mohammad Abbas insisted on Wednesday he is confident his rapid success will not go to his head, saying a tough early life has helped him mature as a person.
The 28-year-old worked as a welder and a leather factory labourer in Pakistan before his hard work in cricket paid dividends with a first-class debut in 2009.
Abbas has been Pakistan’s most successful bowler since making his test debut in the West Indies last year, taking 54 wickets in nine-and-a-half games.
Abbas sent Australia tumbling to 145 all out with figures of 5-33 on Wednesday, helping Pakistan to a 137-run first-innings lead in the second test in Abu Dhabi.
By close on the second day Pakistan were 144-2 in their second innings, stretching the advantage to 281 runs with eight wickets intact as they bid to win the two-match series 1-0.
Abbas took seven wickets in the drawn first test in Dubai last week.
But success is unlikely to go to his head, like it did to Mohammad Zahid, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir – all three fast bowlers who shot to fame early in their careers.
“Look, I have a firm belief in Almighty Allah and I pray that he keeps me away from tough situations,” said Abbas. “I have played first-class cricket and a lot of things have happened before my eyes.”
Zahid shot to prominence with 11 wickets in his debut test against New Zealand in 1996 but managed only four more matches after struggling with a back injury.
Asif and Amir were each banned for five years after their parts in the spot-fixing scandal on Pakistan’s tour of England in 2010. Since completing his ban, Amir has returned but struggled to make the most of his talent.
“I suffered hardship in my life so my focus is on cricket and that has made me mature. I want to keep my feet on ground, that has been my life and it has matured me,” added Abbas.
“Right or wrong, I know where to go and my focus is to go step to step and whatever happens around me doesn’t bother me.”
When he claimed his 50th wicket in his 10th test on Tuesday, Abbas became the joint-second fastest to achieve the feat from Pakistan alongside the legendary Waqar Younis, Asif and Shabbir Ahmed.
Teammate Yasir Shah is the fastest Pakistani to 50 wickets – in nine matches.
Abbas also has the fourth-best average (15.94) – and lowest this century – among those with 50 or more wickets.
England’s George Lohmann (10.75), Australia’s J.J. Ferris (12.70) and Billy Barnes of England (15.54) all played in the 19th century.
But Abbas said records are made to be broken.
“I focus on my bowling and taking wickets for Pakistan and in the process get records, which are made to be broken.”