If all goes well for Naseem Shah, the 16-year-old could become the youngest cricketer to play a Test Down Under during Pakistan's tour of Australia which starts 3 November with a three-match T20I series. Shah will have to thank Pakistan's head coach and chief selector Misbah-ul-Haq for scouting him despite the fact that he has played just five first-class matches since making his debut for Lahore last September.
If Shah indeed gets to make his Test debut in the series starting 21 November at the Gabba, he will be in some illustrious company. Previously, the only player under the age of 18 who has played a Test in Australia this century is Shah's fellow countryman Mohammad Amir. However, Amir went at a dismal average of 40.37 in that 2009/10 series.
Shah seemed unfazed by the same and said that he was raring to make the most of the opportunity, should a Test debut come his way during the tour Down Under. "I aim to make an impression with my speed and swing if given a chance in the Tests against Australia," Shah said. "The conditions in Australia help fast bowlers. My aim is to make maximum use of the conditions and give a tough time to the home side. Playing on hard and bouncy pitches will be a great experience and a learning curve for me."
Not too long ago, Shah was playing for Pakistan Under-16, also having played in the Under-19 Asia Cup. His wickets tally in first-class cricket stands at an impressive 17 with an average of 18.70.
Spurred by a disastrous T20I series loss to Sri Lanka at home, Misbah-ul-Haq has brought in the 16-year-old Shah into the Test squad for the tour of Australia and feels that the challenge can bring out the best in the youngster. "In all spells he’s bowling quick and his control with the ball is also good. So we’re looking forward that he can just bowl well here in Australia where the conditions may just give him some sort of assistance and getting some pace and bounce from these wickets," Misban told reporters in Sydney on Monday.
Pakistan begin their tour on 31 October with a T20 match against a Cricket Australia XI, before a three-match T20I series against the hosts starting in Sydney on 3 November, followed by the two-Test series.
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