Which former star wants Pakistan seamer Naseem Shah in the playing XI for the first Test against Australia?

Azhar Mahmood wants Naseem Shah to be in the playing XI for the first Test against Australia Pakistan cricket

Azhar Mahmood: “There is no doubt in my mind that Naseem Shah should be part of the Pakistan XI for the first Test of the series against Australia”

Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo

Former Pakistan all-rounder and bowling coach Azhar Mahmood has called for pace bowler Naseem Shah to be included in the playing XI for the first Test against Australia.

Naseem stole the spotlight with his fiery spell on the final day of Pakistan’s practice match against Australia A in Perth.

The 16-year-old dismissed opening batsman Marcus Harris for 20 and ended up finishing with figures of 1-21 off eight overs.

However, he went wicketless in Pakistan’s practice game against the Cricket Australia XI, where he conceded 58 runs off the 12 overs he bowled.

Having impressed in the practice games, especially against Australia A, Azhar believes Naseem should be given the opportunity to make his international debut in the first Test, which will begin on November 21 in Brisbane.

“There is no doubt in my mind that Naseem Shah should be part of the Pakistan XI for the first Test of the series against Australia,” he wrote in his blog for PakPassion. “Pakistan, depending on the balance of the side, will either choose to go in with four or five bowlers. We are likely to have Mohammad Abbas and Shaheen Shah Afridi leading the attack, supported by Yasir Shah.

“But, having five bowlers in the side could mean that we have a very long tail as there won’t be much batting after Mohammad Rizwan, especially as we do not have the services of an all-rounder such as Shadab Khan or Faheem Ashraf. So more than likely Pakistan will go with a four-man bowling attack.

“That being the case, it is important that they choose a bowler who has good pace as taking 20 wickets will be the key. Now Imran Khan senior has the ability to swing the ball but if there is no swing on offer in Brisbane, then Pakistan will have a big problem and I do believe they will need to opt for pace in the shape of Naseem Shah.

“Pakistan cannot have two bowlers in the line-up such as Mohammad Abbas and Imran Khan senior bowling at a similar pace. What is needed is some sort of X-factor so a preferred pace attack in my view would consist of Mohammad Abbas, Shaheen Shah Afridi and Naseem Shah as the third pacer in the side.

Having worked with Naseem, Azhar noted that the youngster is brimming with potential and has a bright future ahead of him as he is “an extremely intelligent cricketer”.

“I have spoken and worked closely on numerous occasions with Naseem Shah at the NCA (National Cricket Academy), especially during the time he was recovering from his back injury and I am impressed by his skills,” Azhar wrote. “However, Mudassar Nazar needs to be given credit for the hard work he put in with Naseem and that effort will hopefully come to the fore in this series.

“In my conversations with Naseem, I found him to be an extremely intelligent cricketer and one who is always willing to learn. He is gifted with natural pace and has a good action and I do hope that he will stay fit for a long time, given that he had an injury before.

“For Naseem, where his foot lands at the point of delivery and his body alignment are problem areas which thankfully Mudassar Nazar has worked a lot to improve. However, he is very young, and we all know that younger fast bowlers are more prone to injury as they do not have a good judgement about the limitations of their body but we hope he will remain injury free in the future.

“Regardless of this, there is no doubt in my mind that Naseem is very hard-working, and I have always seen him work very hard on his fitness which is an encouraging sign for a young bowler.”

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