Former Sri Lankan star batter Mahela Jayawardene has said that Pakistan’s teen pacer Naseem Shah along with left arm fast bowling spearhead Shaheen Shah Afridi should prove crucial for Pakistan during the ICC T20 World Cup scheduled to be held in Australia next month.
Despite skipper Babar Azam going through a slightly lean patch with the bat, Pakistan will still be able to rely on other explosive batters such as Mohammad Rizwan and Fakhar Zaman. Jayawardene, however, feels the Pakistani speedsters, especially Shah and Afridi, can be match winners even on the toughest of days.
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The 19-year-old Shah picked up seven wickets at an impressive economy rate of 7.66 in five matches during his team’s Asia Cup campaign in the UAE. While definitely not a first-choice batter, he did hammer two successive sixes against Afghanistan to guide Pakistan to a memorable victory.
“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.
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“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,” said Jayawardene.
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“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,” the Sri Lankan legend concluded.