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Saqlain's mystery ball leaves Warne in a spin

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    Saqlain's mystery ball leaves Warne in a spin

    By Julian Linden

    Saqlain Mushtaq gave Shane Warne a taste of his own medicine when he dismissed the Australian leg-spinner with a mystery ball so difficult to play that even master Indian batsman Sachin Tendulkar has been deceived by it.

    Saqlain bowled Warne for a first-ball duck as Pakistan fought back strongly on the second day of the second test at Hobart's Bellerive Oval.

    The Pakistani off-spinner finished with career-best figures of six for 46, tormenting Australia's batsman with a wonderful spell of varied bowling, including three wickets in one over.

    It saw Australia lose their last nine wickets for 55 runs to be all out for 246.

    Saqlain said his most enjoyable moment was claiming Warne's scalp with his mystery ball, or "doosra" in Urdu, the same delivery that he has used to dismiss Tendulkar three times.

    "I really enjoyed that one," Saqlain said.

    Saqlain is unique among off-spinners in that he can also bowl leg-breaks by screwing the ball with a basic finger-spinner's action, turning it away from the right-hander.

    He learnt to bowl it playing as a child in the back streets of Lahore, practising with a tennis ball wrapped in electrical tape.

    Saqlain has been working on it for years and has now perfected it to the point where very few of even the top batsmen can effectively play it. This year, he topped the English first-class bowling averages for Surrey with 58 victims at 11.37.

    One of his victims on Friday was Australian opener Michael Slater who top-edged a full toss straight to Ijaz Ahmed at square leg.

    "It might have looked like a pretty bad shot but he just deceived me," Slater said. "He really is a world-class spinner and we are going to have to work hard to play him."

    Saqlain also dismissed Justin Langer for 59 with the total on 206 then cleaned up Adam Gilchrist (6) and Shane Warne (0) in successive balls. He almost claimed a hat-trick when wicketkeeper Moin Khan stumped Damien Fleming first ball but the batsman was given the benefit of the doubt by the third umpire.

    Saqlain got Fleming four balls later when he trapped him leg before with a top spinner that was measured at 100 kph on the speed gun. He then finished off the Australian innings when Glenn McGrath played forward and was caught short of his ground as Moin whipped off the bails.

    "The problem with Saqlain is not that he's difficult to read," Slater said. "I can tell what the ball's going to do when it's in flight. The problem is actually playing it."