Naseem Shah – Pakistan’s Next Pace Bowling Sensation

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Is Naseem Shah Pakistan’s Next Pace Bowling Superstar?

In November 2019 against Australia, Naseem Shah became the ninth-youngest player to make their debut in Test cricket. Remarkably he sits behind five other Pakistani youngsters, the youngest of which Hasan Raza, holds the record for the youngest ever Test match debutant, making his debut at just 14 years and 227 days old. Could Naseem Shah be the one to carry Pakistan’s bowling over the next decade?

Only a month after his first-class debut Shah and having shown his capabilities of reaching 90mph, was thrust into the limelight of a Test ‘Down Under’. This, against an ever formidable Australia outfit in a day-night Test at Brisbane.

Naseem Shah picks up a wicket. He is part of the Pakistan Squad to England in 2020.
BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA – NOVEMBER 23: Naseem Shah of Pakistan celebrates after taking his first test wicket, the wicket of David Warner of Australia during day three of the 1st Domain Test between Australia and Pakistan at The Gabba on November 23, 2019 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Chris Hyde – CA/Cricket Australia via Getty Images)

In truth, Pakistan were well beaten by an innings and five runs. The home sides batsmen putting the visiting bowler through their paces.

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A Tough Start Down Under 

A baptism of fire to the realities of top-level cricket for the young Pakistani tearaway. He did pick up his first Test wicket, David Warner caught behind, albeit he had made 154 at the time. However, the early signs were he had all the attributes required to not only ‘make it’ at the top level, but perhaps that Naseem Shah could be Pakistan’s newest bowling sensation.

After showing glimpses of his almost supernatural talent at such a tender age in Australia, Shah was subsequently picked for his nation’s home series with Sri Lanka. The 16-year-old quick took 5-31 from 12.5 overs to set up a comprehensive win for his side. His five-for made him the youngest ever seam bowler to achieve the feat. The second youngest bowler more generally behind countryman and slow left-arm bowler – Nasim-ul-Ghani.

Pakistan’s bowler Naseem Shah (R) celebrates with teammates after taking the dismissal of Bangladesh’s Saif Hassan (unseen) during the third day of the first cricket Test match between Pakistan and Bangladesh at the Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium in Rawalpindi on February 9, 2020. (Photo by AAMIR QURESHI / AFP) (Photo by AAMIR QURESHI/AFP via Getty Images)

The Step Up

Having been withdrawn from the Under 19 ICC World Cup in favour of senior selection, Shah’s finest day in his fledgling career came in February 2020 against Bangladesh. There was little happening and the Bangladeshi batsmen settled at 124-2. However, the young paceman got the oldish ball swinging and became the youngest ever player to take a Test hat-trick.

Now firmly part of the Pakistani squad, the 17-year-old impressed during the first Test defeat for the tourists in the first Test of the English summer. With two wickets in the match, Shah was the quickest bowler on show from either side.

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His days of age-group cricket may now be behind him. This, despite him being eligible for Under 19 cricket remarkably for another two years. With 15 wickets in five Tests and an average which is only heading in one direction, Shah is a generational talent who should be nurtured and appreciated with every step he takes. Whether the steps are positive or negative should not matter. Pakistan should aim to nurture such a talent.

Early Signs Shown

Despite opposition from his own father in the early days, Shah has made early strides towards becoming one of the greats. Starting out so early should bring about a long a fruitful career. However as we have seen before, there are no guarantees. Even when you have Naseem’s talent, he is right to cherish every last second of this.

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Only recently a fellow Pakistani bowler who also began his Test career in his teens, Mohammed Amir, now 28, quit the format as his body was no longer up to the rigors of bowling fast across five days. This, despite missing two years through suspension.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND – AUGUST 07: Naseem Shah of Pakistan appeals unsuccessfully during Day Three of the 1st #RaiseTheBat Test Match between England and Pakistan at Emirates Old Trafford on August 07, 2020 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images for ECB)

Naseem Shah “Can be Pakistan’s Best Bowler” 

Having received praise from all-quarters during his short career, including from Pakistani greats Wasim Akram, should Shah avoid injury and maintain his enthusiasm, there is no doubt he should have a long successful career at the very pinnacle of the game.

With one of the greatest exponents of pace and swing bowling the world as seen in Waqar Younis in place as current bowling coach, the young quick could hardly wish for better guidance as his career moves to the next level.

Second Test Preview – Naseem Shah, Pakistan’s Bowling and the Ageas Bowl

You can watch Naseem Shah in action as Thursdays second Test against England at the Ageas Bowl gets underway. Pakistan will be hoping that he can perform well again. Naseem Shah must inspire Pakistan to victory at the Ageas Bowl. It will not be easy, as the visitors could be deflated, having lost from a position of strength at Emirates Old Trafford.

The West Indies did win at the Ageas Bowl. This should fill the Pakistan players with confidence. As long as their batsmen step up, they have every chance of levelling the series. Pakistan’s bowlers have for long been their saviour. And Naseem Shah, Pakistan’s latest pace bowling sensation, could make the difference.

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