Colombo, Sep 21 (IANS) Legendary Sri Lankan batter Mahela Jayawardene has said the emergence of teenage pacer Naseem Shah has been the biggest positive for Pakistan along with a fit-again Shaheen Shah Afridi ahead of the ICC T20 World Cup in Australia next month.
While skipper Babar Azam’s form with the bat is a bit of a concern for the semifinalists of the 2021 edition of the tournament, Jayawardene feels the Pakistani quicks, especially Shah and Afridi, are match winners on any given day.
The 19-year-old Shah scalped seven wickets at an economy of 7.66 in five matches during the Asia Cup in the UAE and his big-hitting too — he smashed two sixes against Afghanistan that played a crucial role in Pakistan’s victory — has come in for praise.
“I’ve been following Naseem for a while now,” Jayawardena said on The ICC Review. “Obviously, they have used him a lot in red-ball cricket, in Test match cricket because of his pace. They did not back him too much with the accuracy with the white-ball format but lately, with a lot of cricket being played, he has come of age and the control that he showed, especially with the new ball, picking up wickets … that’s the key element.
“That Pakistan attack will look much stronger with Shaheen Afridi back as well, and the way Haris Rauf bowled. He bowled quickly. With the two youngsters, they’ve got a really, really good pace unit. And Naseem has been brilliant, I was really impressed by the way he went about things. The skills, especially bringing the ball back into the right-handers, the way he swung the ball with that kind of pace,” opined Jayawardene.
“In Australian conditions, those guys will be a handful. Especially for quite a few opening batsmen, it will be a nightmare if Shaheen and Naseem bowl in tandem from both ends.”