Naseem Shah is just 16, but the Pakistan paceman is showing signs he could produce big things in the Test series. (AAP: Richard Wainwright)
Armed with newfound belief, supreme confidence and a young “Dennis Lillee”, Pakistan is primed to win its first Test series in Australia.
Australia A v Pakistan
- Pakistan 428 (Babar Azam 157, Asad Shafiq 117)
- Australia A 122 (Cameron Bancroft 49, Imran Khan 5-32)
- Pakistan 3-152 dec (Shan Masood 65, Iftikhar Ahmed 79*)
- Australia A 2-91 (Usman Khawaja 37*, Naseem Shah 1-21)
So believes pace great Waqar Younis, Pakistan’s youngest ever captain turned bowling coach.
“Look, I don’t want to just jump the gun but, yeah, I think we have got what it takes to challenge this Australian side,” Waqar said before being inducted as a Bradman Foundation honoree at the SCG on Wednesday night.
Already a believer, Waqar is even more convinced after seeing Pakistan dominate Australia A in a drawn three-day tour match in Perth.
“Last time when we came here, we went very close to winning the Brisbane Test match, we did pretty well at Melbourne and (captain) Azhar Ali scored big centuries and most of the batting line-up is the same apart from Younis Khan is not there,” he said.
“And then you’ve got Babar Azam and Haris Sohail, who come in. They’re both very good.
“So I think our batting line-up is very compact and if we do our basics right and fight out the difficult periods, then we’ll do OK.”
The tourists’ batsmen looked impressive in Perth, with Babar Azam (157) and Asad Shafiq (117) taking toll of the Australia A bowlers.
Babar Azam tuned up for the Test series with a brilliant innings of 157 against Australia A. (AAP: Richard Wainwright)
It’s Pakistan’s bowling attack — featuring untried teenagers Naseem Shah and Muhammad Musa, 19-year-old left-armer Shaheen Afridi, the proven Mohammad Abbas and veteran seamer Imran Khan — that most enthuses Waqar.
Cricket.com.au tweet: Smoke! 16-year-old Naseem Shah impressed with his serious pace against the Australia A top order. #AUSAvPAK
Right-arm seamer Imran destroyed Australia A with a 5-32 in the first innings at Perth Stadium while Naseem claimed Marcus Harris’s second-innings scalp with a fearsome bouncer in a lively eight-over cameo that yielded 1-21 just two days after the death of his mother.
“Our bowling attack is very young, very raw,” Waqar said.
“But sometimes the raw works if they get it right.”
Waqar is particularly excited about what 16-year-old Naseem can produce this summer.
“He’s very talented — and he’s smart,” Waqar said.
“He’s got a very good action, he’s got good pace. He reminds me of Dennis Lillee actually. He’s got a very similar action.
“He’s not as big as Dennis — Dennis was a big guy — but when he gets it right, he’s a handful.”
Pakistan, even with cricket legends like Imran Khan, Javed Miandad, Wasim Akram, Saleem Malik and Waqar in their ranks, have never won a series in Australia since first touring in 1964.
The first Test starts at the Gabba in Brisbane next Thursday, with the second — a day-nighter at Adelaide Oval — beginning on November 29.