Young Naseem Shah has kept the edge on Pakistan’s bowling attack in absence of pace spearhead Shaheen Shah Afridi, who got ruled out of the Asia Cup 2022 with a knee injury. Naseem, 19, struck two consecutive sixes in the last over of the game to help his side beat Afghanistan and qualify for the tournament final. Many fans were reminded of Javed Miandad hitting a famous last ball six off Chetan Sharma to beat India in Sharjah, as Naseem continued his impressive run since debuting against the arch-rivals last month. Interestingly, Naseem had only faced one ball in T20Is before his twin sixes crushed India’s hopes of getting into the final.
Naseem, who won rave reviews from international cricketers and fans, shone in his first T20I as well. He stood out for Pakistan with figures of 2-27 but a foot injury in the last few overs had him limping. The fast bowler struck early with the wicket of KL Rahul for nought and bowled Suryakumar Yadav for 18.
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Speaking to a Pakistani TV channel, Naseem’s father Abbas Shah revealed how the pacer used to tell his mother that he will play for Pakistan. He was 16 when he made his debut in Brisbane a day after the death of his mother, and dismissed David Warner for his first Test wicket in 2019.
“I beat Naseem many times for playing cricket, asking him to focus on his studies instead. None of us supported Naseem, only his brother would secretly give him money,” said Naseem’s father.
“When his mother was alive, he used to say that one day I will play for Pakistan. We used to laugh saying how will a man from Dir join the Pakistan team. He thinks of her and cries a lot. He says if mother was here, she would have been very happy to see me in the Pakistan kit,” he added.
On his final over heroics against Afghanistan, Naseem said self-belief and practice sessions in the nets helped him take Pakistan over the finish line. Panic set in when Asif Ali was dismissed on the fifth ball of the penultimate over.
But Naseem held his nerves in the final over when they needed 11 runs. He clobbered consecutive sixes off fast bowler Fazalhaq Farooqi’s two low full tosses.
“When I went in to bat I had the belief to hit the sixes. I practice (hitting sixes) and I knew they would bowl yorkers as they had the field up. I just tried and I executed,” Naseem said after the match.
“We need to have the belief, we can hit, we keep practicing in the nets and I also changed my bat, it worked. When you lose the ninth wicket, no one expects you to win, but I had belief that I can. I practice hitting a lot. This will be a memorable game for me. Everyone’s forgotten I am a bowler,” he added.
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