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November 15, 2006

Pace attack

Shahid the Unsung swings it for Pakistan

Kamran Abbasi
Shahid Nazir in the nets following his inclusion in the tour squad, Lahore, June 9, 2006
 © AFP
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Pakistan bounced back from a calamitous Champions Trophy with a victory that blossomed with optimism if not complete command. Mohammad Yousuf continued his exquisite run in Test cricket and, flat track or no, he outperformed all the other batsmen in this match including one BC Lara. There is a sense of serenity about Yousuf's batting that inspires confidence and echoes a bygone era. One half of Pakistan's opening batting partnership continued to raise more questions than answers (more on that next time). And Inzamam returned with a duck and a quiet, if occasionally somnolent, authority to help Pakistan regain their footing in international cricket.

But the big question mark hung over Pakistan's bowling attack and Umar Gul and Shahid Nazir answered it as emphatically as possible. Although Gul had the better figures, for my money, it was Shahid the Unsung who swung it for Pakistan.

After a break from Test cricket that must have felt like an eternity, Shahid returned to the Test team at Headingley this year and made an immediate impact. Admittedly his pace is friendly but Shahid more than makes up for that with accuracy and consistency, attributes that have been lacking in Pakistan's support pace bowlers for many years. Far better to follow the bluster and the venom of opening bowlers of the calibre of Shoaib Akhtar and Mohammad Asif with somebody reliable who can control an innings and pick up wickets in the process, rather than ease the pressure with a wayward spell from, say, Abdul Razzaq. What Shahid has done since Headingley, in a style not dissimilar to Aaqib Javed if not as speedy, is to replicate this remarkable control and consistency at every opportunity.

In many ways Shahid is an ideal third or fourth seamer in Test cricket but he also carries the reputation of possibly being Pakistan's best new-ball bowler. That's a big accolade to try and live up to but on the first morning of this Test Shahid showed exactly why people do talk of him in this manner. While Gul was wayward--although he too returned later to rise to the occasion and confirm his progress as Pakistan's most improved bowler of this year--it was Shahid who made Lara pay for batting first on a treacherous morning. It was that spell that put Pakistan in a dominant position. I'm no lover of medium pace but hats off to Shahid Nazir for his patience and now his determination to prove to Pakistan's selectors that they ignored a real gem for too long.

Pakistan's new opening bowlers can't really make up for the two that have been lost but their form is a ray of sunshine--and a cause for optimism--at a time when Pakistan cricket needs to leave behind the darkness of recent weeks.

Kamran Abbasi is an editor, writer and broadcaster. He tweets here

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Posted by Hessy on (January 27, 2012, 0:21 GMT)

AFAIC that's the best asnewr so far!

Posted by Farrukh Nadeem on (November 30, 2006, 7:26 GMT)

I agree that Shahid Nazir is an unsung hero. He is unfortunately seems going on Aaquib Javed's line, in the sense, he doesn't go after wickets rather he tries to concentrate on line and length. I still remember his contribution to Pakistan cricket when he bowled a good spell to remove Brian Lara in the finals of Carlton & United Series final in Australia. He should be a regular bowler in Pakistan cricket team. However, he has a major threat in Mohammed Asif as he is wicket taking as well as very economical bowler. Lets see whether Pakistan will ever see bowling trio like Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis and Aqib Javed.

Posted by ali on (November 26, 2006, 10:13 GMT)

since asif and akhtar left i stoped watching cricket

Posted by asam on (November 18, 2006, 23:03 GMT)

omer admani u must be joking if u think pakistan should let sami go he is a great bowler but all he needs to do is get his confidence and consistency back because don't forget when he gets that back he will be our best bowler without akhtar and asif by a mile

Posted by Emad Alamgir on (November 18, 2006, 16:10 GMT)

I dont understand why the selectors always go for the express sort of bowlers rather than the disciplined line and lenght bowlers. I think shahid Nazir has an immaculate line and lenght and aided by his ability to swing he is a very important prospect in Pakistans world cup campaign. He has loads of experience behind him and i am sure he would be extremely useful for the team. Another thing i have noted is his outstanding ability to get Lara in a spot of bother .I remember him dismissing Lara in series held in Australia and this time around as well he has bowled exceptionaly well to him . A bowler with an abilty to disturb the worlds best batsmen is surely on my list of Pakistans world cup pace attack Cheers

Posted by omer Admani on (November 18, 2006, 3:59 GMT)

Can't we just let Sami go? He is a liability, because he releases the pressure that is applied from the other end. Nazir was impressive, while Gul keeps on getting better. Shoaib Malik's bowling is no better than Razzaq's, so one has to be sacrificed for another bowler (hopefully not Sami, maybe Niazi). I would rather Razzaq remains in the team, because though Malik might be more consistent, Razzaq is more of a pressure player. We would ideally require a batsman to play in that position in a pressure situation, because when the top order fires, then the 30-40 odd lower down the order might be useless.

Posted by Imran Quraishi on (November 17, 2006, 20:56 GMT)

I had only seen a picture of Shahid Nazeer on Cric info web site prior to watching him live in the recently concluded test match against West Indies and to be honest with you I was not just disappointed by that picture but I was disgusted as to how on earth an old man who looks like he is over the hill is gonna represent Pakistan on an International level.

That picture is still on my mind but it did not did justice with this young lad. After seeing him live I am not only impressed by his looks but I am the biggest fan of his that one can find in New Jersey. I think his looks are not as deceiving as his bowling is. Congratulations to the people of Pakistan to find this rare gem out of no where as all of a sudden we seem to be very much in contention for the world cup and with Umer,Shabbir and Sami as the other main bowlers we can beat any time in this world "Inshallah".

Unfortunately thanks to the stupid decision taken by Mr(Inti)Alam & the other two musketeers the innocent and cricket crazy people of Pakistan were deprieved of their two main attack bowlers. I think Inti and his gang should be put on a trial for doing something this stupid and to say that they are creating an example for future generations. By bad mouthing about poor Shoaib that he is sexually active and is a drinker what example are you setting for future generation Mr Inti cuz how dare can you malign someone's reputation like that. That is none of you God damn business. I am surprised and shocked about the silence of our President Musharraf who could have called Inti and the other two culprits a day before the hearing and told them not to make any stupid decisions like this cuz this can really affect our chances for the world cup. Shame of Inti and company a million times.

Posted by rauf on (November 17, 2006, 16:28 GMT)

I dont care what is said about our new bowlers without one of the two banned bowlers we are not going to win the world cup. That should be our primary concern.

Posted by Qasim on (November 17, 2006, 16:23 GMT)

He may have bowled that delivery but has he gotten any worthy wickets with it? I don't think so, Sami is the most over hyped player in Pakistani cricket, just because he has the support of Imran Khan.

Sami as a bowler is so bad that i think if Malik or Hafess had as many chances as Sami to bowl fast, they would have better figures then him...

Sami has played 28 tests with an average of 48 and a strike rate of 81.... thats very very poor for a fast fowler let alone a Pakistani pace man.

Forget about Sami!!!!!! Look for other Pacemen in Pakistan, there is allot of talend who havn't yet had a chance.

And stop under estimating Umar Gul, he is a very decent bowler and his figures show that.....

Without Shoaib Akhtar, i agree.. we do need pace but not just pace, we need pace which takes wickets.... Sami clearly hasn't!!!! NOT IN TEST MATCHES ATLEAST.

Posted by Mustafa Moiz on (November 17, 2006, 12:21 GMT)

Qasim, the delvery you described Gul bowling to Lara has been done by Sami to lefties. And he has reverse swing which you didn't see Shahid Nazir bowling. He is almost 29 and has only played 11 Tests. Razzaq is a bowler who comtrols runs and takes 1-3 wickets every match and more on a good day. Nazir is quite lucky. But, presuming Shoaib Khtar and Asif cannot return, Pakistan's bowling should consist of Mohammad Sami, Abdul Razzaq, Samiullah(or some other leftie), Shoaib Malik, Afridi and Hafeez.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kamran Abbasi
Kamran Abbasi is an editor, writer and broadcaster. He was the first Asian columnist for Wisden Cricket Monthly and wisden.com. Kamran is the editor of the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine. @KamranAbbasi

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