Monday, February 10, 2020

Abbas-Naseem-Shaheen: Pakistan's Pace Triumvirate

Having made his debut in Australia a few months ago, Naseem Shah has quickly risen to become Pakistan's spearhead. Along with Mohammad Abbas and Shaheen Afridi, he has formed a potent pace attack, which has the potential to serve Pakistan successfully over the next many years.

Pakistan has now played this triumvirate in three consecutive tests. In the 5 innings that Abbas, Shaheen, and Naseem have bowled together, they have collectively accounted for 34 out of the 50 wickets that Pakistan has taken.

The trio have a total of 30 tests among themselves; two of them are still in their teens. So young and inexperienced, yet they have given Pakistan glimpses of the hey days of Pakistani pace.

Their numbers are quite remarkable.

Look at those averages and strike rates!

While Abbas is the workhorse who bowls tirelessly at a miserly economy, Shaheen and Naseem strike with their pace. Shaheen has consistently provided the early breakthroughs, while Naseem has provided the closing touches.

He is only 16 years and 4 tests old and he has already played an instrumental part in Pakistan's last two test victories.

Yesterday he became the youngest bowler to take a test hatrick and only the 4th Pakistani bowler to achieve the feat following in the footsteps of Wasim Akram, Abdul Razzaq, and Mohammad Sami.

For all of Pakistan's sake let us hope that he continues to follow in the footsteps of the former.

Naseem's 4-26 in the second innings initiated Bangladesh's collapse from 124-2 to 168 all out, setting up an innings win for Pakistan.

In his previous test, the second of the series against Sri Lanka, Naseem became the youngest bowler to pick up a five wicket haul in a test innings. His 5-31 in the second innings led Pakistan to a test and series win.

What is even more impressive about Naseem is the fact that 9 of his 13 test wickets till date have come in the opposition's second innings, which is testament to his fitness, passion, and motivation level.

In the period since Abbas made his test debut in April 2017, he has one of the best test bowling averages in the world. He has the best economy rate in the world in that period and he is among the only 4 bowlers in the world who have picked up a 10 wicket haul in tests in this period.

Shaheen is the only one among the three who has excelled across formats for Pakistan. Not only is his test average of 28 impressive, his ODI and T20I averages of 21.2 and 20.8 respectively are also top notch.

In the period starting from April 2018, when Shaheen made his international debut, he is among the top 10 wicket takers in all international cricket.

In this period, he has the second best strike rate in the world, behind only Kuldeep Yadav's. There is no pace bowler in the world who has a better strike rate than Shaheen Afridi's in the past two years!

And his international bowling average of 23.5 is bettered by only Pat Cummins and Jasprit Bumrah.

For a 19 year old this is quite remarkable.

As a trio, Abbas-Shaheen-Naseem have worked wonders for Pakistan. Let us hope that they will continue to create the same magic for many more years!

Let us hope that Abbas will continue to deceive batsmen with his seam, Shaheen will continue to dismiss opposition openers in the first few overs, and Naseem will continue to give us fiery wicket taking spells reminiscent of the two Ws and Shoaib Akhtar.

Pakistan has always had an abundance of fast bowling resources but so many of them have disappeared into the wilderness due to mismanagement of talent and general issues within the system.

Let us hope that this does not happen to this triumvirate and that they continue to excite, enthrall, and entertain Pakistan cricket fans for a long time.

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