Fast bowlers always play a vital role in the success of any cricket team. Pakistan has a long-standing reputation for producing some of the world’s most formidable fast bowlers. These fast bowlers helped Pakistan win many matches even when they had a fragile batting line, not only at home but abroad too.
From Fazal Mehmood to Naseem Shah there is a long list of match-winning fast bowlers.
These days, the combination of Shaheen Shah Afridi, Haris Rauf and Naseem Shah is rated as the top pace attack in the world and in the ongoing Asia Cup it proved its worth against India and Bangladesh.
Among the young fast bowlers in the world one name that has recently emerged from the cricketing circuit to captivate fans and experts alike is Naseem Shah. At just 20 years of age, Naseem Shah has taken the cricketing world by storm with his blistering pace, precision, and remarkable maturity on the field.
Naseem Shah possesses pace, excellent seam movement, and a deceptive ability to swing the ball late. Standing at 6 feet 1 inch tall, his towering frame allows him to extract bounce from the pitch, making him a nightmare for batsmen. His ability to consistently bowl at speeds exceeding 145 km/h (90 mph) has earned him the nickname “The Express.”
The Pakistani selectors picked him for the tour of Australia in 2019, ignoring his lack of exposure and experience. He had played just five first-class matches before being selected for the Australia tour. The young man made his Test debut at the age of 16 and became the youngest Test cricketer to do so in Australia.
He didn’t have a successful outing in terms of wickets but impressed many greats with his fiery pace and control over his line.
He also became the second youngest bowler to take five wickets in a Test innings. He took 5-31 against Sri Lanka in December 2019 in Karachi at the age of just 16 years and 307 days. Only Pakistan’s former spinner Nasim-ul-Ghani who took 5-116 against West Indies at the age of 16 years and 303 days in March 1958 was younger than him.
His journey has been marked by several memorable performances. In just his second Test series, he achieved a sensational hat-trick against Bangladesh in February 2020, becoming the youngest bowler to accomplish this feat in Test cricket.
His 5-wicket haul against Sri Lanka in Karachi showcased his ability to thrive on home soil.
Naseem’s natural talent propelled him through the ranks of domestic cricket. He quickly gained recognition for his extraordinary ability to generate express pace and swing the ball both ways.
One of the most remarkable aspects of Naseem Shah’s game is his maturity on the field.
Despite his tender age, he displays the composure and tactical acumen of a seasoned campaigner. His decision-making under pressure and the ability to set up batsmen with clever variations have surprised even the most experienced of opponents.
Like any promising cricketer, Naseem Shah has faced his fair share of challenges. Injuries have hampered his progress, causing him to miss crucial matches. However, his resilience and determination to come back stronger have been evident in his performances post-injury.
Naseem is blessed with all the attributes for being a potent pacer across formats but a lot will depend on the kind of grooming he will get.
He shot to fame while representing Pakistan U16 and also played for the U19 side. Naseem’s fast-tracking happened due to Misbah-ul-Haq when he was Pakistan’s head coach as well as chief national selector.
Naseem has played 17 Tests, 13 One-day Internationals, and 19 Twenty20 Internationals, and taken 51, 32 and 15 wickets with averages 33.82, 15.31 and 34.66, respectively.
Naseem Shah made his first-class debut for Zarai Taraqiati Bank Limited against Lahore Blues in 2018.
Within a few years, he has already represented Pakistan national team, Pakistan Under-19s, Colombo Strikers, Leicestershire Foxes, Quetta Gladiators, Comilla Victorians, KPK, Pakistanis, Gloucestershire, Gloucestershire Second XI, Southern Punjab, Pakistan Shaheens, St Kitts and Nevis Patriots, Central Punjab, Pakistan Cricket Board Greens, and Zarai Taraqiati Bank Limited.
Earlier this year, Leicestershire signed Naseem Shah on a short-term deal for the start of the Vitality Blast. Naseem also featured for Gloucestershire in the Blast last season, taking five wickets in three games. He was also signed by Welsh Fire to play in the Hundred, but withdrew due to international commitments.
Naseem is not only a good fast bowler, but he has proved his batting skills too, especially against Afghan-istan. Naseem Shah clinched a last-over-thriller against Afghanistan in the second ODI in Hambantota last month. The tailender hit two consecutive fours to left-arm pacer Fazalhaq Farooqi ensuring Pakistan’s victory with one ball to spare. In the Asia Cup 2022, too, Naseem hit Afghanistan’s Fareed Malik for two sixes in the last over in his unbeaten knock of 14 off four balls.
Naseem continues to develop his skills and gain experience. There is no doubt that Naseem Shah will play a pivotal role in Pakistan’s cricketing success for years to come. With the world at his feet and the cricketing fraternity watching in awe, Naseem Shah is Pakistan’s rising star in fast bowling, and the future of the game looks bright in his hands.
Naseem Shah’s journey has only just begun, and the cricketing world eagerly anticipates his future exploits. With his prodigious talent, unwavering dedication, and the guidance of Pakistan’s cricketing stalwarts, he has the potential to become one of the all-time greats in fast bowling.