Tough day for a teen; Naseem still waiting for a test wicket
BRISBANE, Australia (AP) — For a few moments Naseem Shah thought his first wicket in test cricket was one of the most prized to get at the Gabba. The 16-year-old Pakistan paceman had David Warner, a veteran opener more than twice his age, caught behind on 56.
Then he saw on the stadium screen that he’d overstepped the crease. He got the TV umpire’s decision: not out. Warner, who had started walking back to the pavilion thinking his innings was over, returned and turned his half-century into an unbeaten 151 by stumps on day two of the series-opening test against Pakistan.
It was Warner’s 22nd hundred in 80 tests, and his fourth time reaching 150.
Naseem finished with figures of 0-65 from 16 overs, leaving the field 12 minutes early and showing signs of fatigue. He bowled one over late with the second new ball, but a fumble in the outfield when he was fielding in the deep reflected he was probably at the end of his physical limits for the day. He’d troubled Australian openers Warner and Joe Burns with his pace, particularly with the short ball as he either hit or narrowly missed them. He’s still waiting for that first test wicket.
He was clearly disappointed. But he’ll bounce back. After all, he was picked by Pakistan to be the youngest player ever to make his test debut in Australia because of his resilience.
Naseem showed plenty of that last week when he returned to play a tour game in Perth the day after his mother died in Pakistan. Logistics and religious custom made it impossible for him to make it home in time for the funeral, and his family encouraged him to stay in Australia and make them proud.
He shed tears when Pakistan great Waqar Younis presented him with his first test cap before play on day one, and got into the thick of it quickly when he had to face a hat-trick ball from express paceman Mitchell Starc as soon as he went out to bat later that afternoon.
There was a lot of hype over Pakistan’s young fast bowling group with Naseem, who has been compared in style with Australian legend Dennis Lillee, and 19-year-old Shaheen Afridi picked over veteran Mohammad Abbas for the series-opener. By the end of day two, though, it was leg-spinner Yasir Shah who had taken the only wicket, bowling Burns for 97 to end Australia’s 222-run opening stand. The Australians finished on 312-1, a lead of 72 with nine wickets in hand and three more days to play out at the Gabba, where they haven’t lost since 1988.
The likes of Waqar Younis and head coach Misbah-ul-Haq have praised Naseem’s maturity, skill and potential. Yasir said the no-ball decision against Warner was obviously a setback for his teenage teammate, in his first taste of cricket at the most elite level, but he expected him to bounce back.
“It’s very difficult for a fast bowler out there — he’s only 16 and he’s playing a test match in Australia,” Yasir said. “He did have them under pressure. He bowled well.”
The disappointment of the no ball, he said, was nothing Naseem couldn’t overcome.
Naseem’s first delivery in test cricket was 145 kph (90 mph) at Warner, whom he later had rocking back and ending on his knees to avoid a short-pitch ball. He went all the way down the pitch in his follow through to follow it up with a glare.
One of the biggest endorsements for Naseem came from Warner, who had to face his bowling at speeds up to 148 kph (92 mph) and said “there’s a superstar there.”
“He won’t get a harder test debut, to go out there and bowl at the Gabba. To keep coming back in, having to back up the overs, in that heat,” Warner said. “Ask any fast bowler who has played here, It’s very, very challenging.
“He kept his speed up quite a lot throughout the whole day. He cramped up a little bit (late), but that’s going to happen.”
Warner said Pakistan’s pool of young fast bowlers was deep.
“If Waqar Younis can get a hold of them, and get their lines and their lengths and their engines going,” he said, “they’re going to be a force to be reckoned with in future.”