Saqlain Mushtaq Backs Pakistan’s Inexperienced Pacers To Do Well In Asia Cup Despite Setback Of Losing Shaheen Shah Afridi

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Saqlain Mushtaq, the Pakistan head coach on Monday said losing injured Shaheen Shah Afridi for the upcoming Asia Cup is a “big setback” but backed his bowling unit to deliver the goods in the continental tournament.

Shaheen Shah Afridi was ruled out of the Asia Cup 2022 competition due to a ligament injury in his knee. He had been on the sidelines due to the injury since July. He had sustained the injury while fielding in the first Test against Sri Lanka in Galle.

The left-arm pacer had bowled 14.1 overs in the first innings of that Test and had taken 4 wickets to help Pakistan bowl out Sri Lanka for 222. But in the second innings, he could bowl just seven overs and had left the field after appearing to be in discomfort on day 3 of the Test.

He was initially seen hobbling in the field after a diving fielding effort. Later, he was spotted with an ice pack wrapped around his knee.

Shaheen Afridi (Image Credit: Twitter)
Shaheen Afridi (Image Credit: Twitter)

Saqlain Mushtaq Backed Naseem Shah To Perform In Asia Cup After He Did Well Against The Netherlands Despite Losing Shaheen Shah Afridi Which Is A Big Setback

Saqlain Mushtaq backed Naseem Shah to perform in the Asia Cup after the right-arm pacer shone brightly in the three-match ODI series against the Netherlands in Rotterdam. Naseem Shah helped Pakistan beat the Netherlands by nine runs in the 3rd ODI to win the ODI series by 3-0.

The 19-year-old Naseem Shah, playing only his third ODI, took a maiden 5-wicket haul- 5-33 in 10 overs. He now has 10 scalps in 3 ODIs-all against Netherlands averaging 11.1, besides picking 33 scalps in 13 Tests averaging 36.30.

“Obviously, losing Shaheen is a big setback to us before the tournament and for the England series because he is someone who has proven himself at the top level and done well against the best batsmen,” Saqlain said.

“It is never easy to replace a player like Shaheen because of his quality but the resources we have are good and we are backing them to deliver for us.”

Naseem Shah- GETTY IMAGES
Naseem Shah- GETTY IMAGES

“Naseem, I see him as a star in the making because of the control, aggression, attitude, and execution he has displayed in his bowling. He has been very impressive for us.” Saqlain said Naseem, who is yet to make his T20I debut, had helped Pakistan win the last match by nine runs.

“He (Naseem) changed the course of the match and the other bowlers supported him well. His (Afridi’s) injury is unfortunate but we are hoping he recovers soon as we have important cricket coming up.”

Pakistan selectors on Monday named young fast bowler Mohammad Hasnain as a replacement for Shaheen Shah Afridi for the Asia Cup to be held in the UAE. Mohammad Hasnain, who was recently banned for his illegal bowling action, has so far played 8 ODIs and 18 T20Is for the Men In Green. He has picked up 12 ODI wickets and 17 T20I wickets.

Saqlain Mushtaq: Pakistan Covered In All Bases And Inexperienced Pacers Have Plenty Of Confidence And Spirit

Saqlain Mushtaq, a former Test off-spinner, said overall Pakistan had a compact bowling attack capable of doing well against all teams.

“We are covered in all bases and though the fast bowlers are not that experienced but they have plenty of confidence and spirit.”

Saqlain Mushtaq©Reuters
Saqlain Mushtaq©Reuters

Asked about criticism over team selection issues, Saqlain said: “Performance is something which can happen or not happen but we look at the attitude, hard work in the nets, mental approach, and a player’s work ethics before deciding to play him.”

Hasan Ali who struggled for a long time with his bad form was earlier dropped from the squad for the Asia Cup 2022. Mohammad Hasnain has been added as Shaheen Shah Afridi’s replacement, who has been advised by the PCB medical advisory committee to take 4-6 weeks of rest after assessing his latest scans. Naseem Shah and Haris Rauf are the pacers who are likely to lead the bowling unit.

Pakistan squad for Asia Cup 2022: Babar Azam (c), Shadab Khan (vc), Asif Ali, Fakhar Zaman, Haider Ali, Haris Rauf, Iftikhar Ahmed, Khushdil Shah, Mohammad Hasnain, Mohammad Nawaz, Mohammad Rizwan, Mohammad Wasim Jnr, Naseem Shah, Shahnawaz Dahani, Usman Qadir

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