Yasir to stick with 'aggressive' approach
Yasir Shah's rapid rise in Test cricket continued with a Man of the Series display against England. Although Pakistan's team management have concerns about his overambitious approach - and even Shane Warne suggested he slow things down at times - Yasir said being aggressive was his strength and integral to his game.
Yasir is racing through the record books; already the fastest Pakistani to take 50 Test wickets, his tally has shot up to 76 in 12 matches, which is the best among spinners after 12 matches. He has spent nearly 13 years in first-class cricket, collecting almost 300 wickets before getting a Test chance, one of the many bowling prospects whose Pakistan career was held back by the success of Saeed Ajmal in the last five years.
Yasir's bowling action has sprinting stride with an attractive looking loop and a magical wrist that has spun the world with his talent. He doesn't have the best googly but he has not let that be a limitation (neither did Warne). Though he wants to learn to impart drift like his childhood hero Warne, he said doesn't have the temperament to bowl slower.
"I am by nature aggressive and attacking in bowling," Yasir said, when asked if he has patience. "I need rhythm and it comes with being aggressive in my stride. When I get slow, I lose the control and end up bowling short and loose. So I try to attack. I am trying hard to be patient but being attacking is my strength.
"I am presently focusing on my strength and want to keep it simple. I just want to make sure that I keep my head up and hit my target bowling wicket to wicket. There are many things I have learnt from Warne but I need to take some time and practice. I will make sure that I won't get distracted, and keep my naturalness."
Pakistan beat England 2-0 in the three-match series, with Yasir forced to miss the drawn opening Test in Abu Dhabi due to a back spasm. He returned in the second Test in Dubai and picked up eight important wickets to help Pakistan beat England by 178 run. He finished with 15 at 21.53, the leading wicket-taker on both sides - with Yasir available in all three Tests, another whitewash might not have been out of the question.
"I still feel bad for missing the game because of unfortunate back injury," he said. "The game was really important for me. I know everyone is expecting a lot from me and had I played it this scoreline could have been different."
Yasir said he understood the expectation levels were increasing with every match. "My team management expect a lot, in fact our planning centred on me from Abu Dhabi. I know sometimes I am not able to deliver accordingly but the kind of support team management provides actually drives me and keeps me motivated. I wanted to play the game and we did everything to make sure I was ready but I couldn't make it."
Shah had a successful tour of Sri Lanka earlier this year, where he took 24 wickets at 19.33, with three five-wicket hauls - 7 for 76 in the first Test, 6 for 96 in the second and 5 for 78 in the third. He became the second bowler to take three or more five-wicket hauls during a Test series in Sri Lanka, after Warne.
"The pitches in Sri Lanka were good, giving bounce, but here in UAE the pitches are slow and I wasn't getting much kick off the surface, but still I tried to make the best of whatever I got. The only difference was that I missed the Abu Dhabi Test, so the wicket tally could have been more."
Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo's Pakistan correspondent. @kalson