“I see a new number 1 Test bowler coming…Mohammad Abbas.”

This is what South African fast bowler Dale Steyn, who has topped the ICC Test bowlers’ rankings probably more than most players during his career, tweeted when the all new Pakistani fast bowling sensation ran through Australia’s middle order at Dubai.

Abbas picked up four wickets—Travis Head, Mitchell Marsh, Aaron Finch and Tim Paine—in a space of just four overs, thus reducing them from a comfortable score of 71/1 to 78/5. Moreover, his spell eliminated any chance Australia had of saving the match and once again highlighted his class in conditions which were the least conducive for fast bowling.

The man from Sialkot is no young gun. In fact, he is a late bloomer being 28 years of age right now. It has just been a year since he has started representing Pakistan at the international level and the impact he has had on world cricket has been astonishing.

He has played just 10 Test matches so far but has 59 wickets to his name, that too, at a jaw-dropping average of 15.64. His bowling average is the fourth best of all time amongst bowlers who have at least 50 Test wickets to their names. In fact, it is the best average ever recorded in the last 117 years. Only GA Lohmann (10.75), JJ Ferris (12.70) and W Barnes (15.54) have bettered his bowling average and all of them belong to the pre-World War era.

These facts explain what is making the world go gaga over him.

What makes Abbas even more special is the control he has in his bowling. He doesn’t have express pace that we can associate with other bowlers of the contemporary world like Kagiso Rabada, Lungi Ngidi, jasprit Bumrah or even Dale Steyn. However, what he has is discipline, accuracy, control and ability to swing the ball both ways, even on dead pitches. These are the attributes which make him so lethal with the ball, despite his deliveries being in the 120-130 kph range on most occasions.

To go with his superb bowling average, nobody has taken as many wickets as him at a better combination of strike-rate and economy, since he made his debut. Only Kagiso Rabada comes close to his strike rate but Abbas’ economy rate is way better than him. James Anderson has a better economy rate and more wickets than Abbas but his strike rate is again way better than that of Anderson’s 48.0.

The aforementioned comparisons show us that Abbas is not only a lethal strike bowler, who can pick up wickets at will on flat and dead pitches, but he is also someone who can check the flow of runs from one end. That kind of combination in one bowler makes a bowling line up extremely versatile and allows it the freedom to build the line-up around him.

He has now played in four different conditions—in England, Ireland, UAE and the West Indies—and has proved his mettle every time. He has shown supreme adaptability to all conditions as is backed up by his bowling averages of 14.20, 12.22, 15.32 and 19.20 respectively in the aforementioned conditions.

The way he bowled in the dead pitches of UAE, picking up 17 wickets in the two Tests against Australia, only tells what he can do in conditions that will aid his kind of bowling. Pakistan will go to South Africa next and Abbas will have his eyes on conquering the rainbow nation as well.

He will have an able competitor, a like and like counter-part in Vernon Philander in South Africa if the latter is fully fit. The contest between them will be intriguing to watch. But Abbas will shine again for sure. He is here to conquer the world and he is just doing so, at least for the time being.