Pakistan faced a six-wicket defeat to England in the first T20I of the series in Karachi on Tuesday. It was an impressive batting performance from England, as they rode on the contributions from comeback-man Alex Hales (51) and Harry Brook (42*) to chase down a 159-run target with four balls to spare. It was a rare off-day for the Pakistan bowling attack as Naseem Shah proved expensive, conceding 41 off his four overs without a wicket, while Shahnawaz Dahani also conceded at an economy rate of 11.40.
Naseem drew eyeballs with his brilliant performances in the recently-concluded Asia Cup 2022, where his outings were key to Pakistan reaching the final of the tournament. The bowler picked two wickets on his T20I debut against India in the group stage, and took a wicket in all games bar the final where Pakistan faced a 23-run loss.
Ahead of the first T20I, Pakistan’s fast bowling legends Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis talked in detail about the fast bowling ‘prodigy’, and Waqar even drew Naseem’s similarity with legendary Australian former pacer Dennis Lillee.
“If you look at the Pakistan fast bowling battery, there are a few who are challenging the top seeds. I feel Naseem, when I first saw him, he was a finished product. A classic action, gets into the crease very nicely. His opportunity came because Amir and Wahab pulled out just before the Australia tour, so we didn’t have a choice too. I thought, ‘just take some youngsters along’,” Waqar said in a video posted by Pakistan Cricket.
“He’s got a perfect run-up, gets side-on really nicely. He has got pace. He has got a Dennis Lillee kind of action,” he further said.
Wasim Akram, too, talked in detail about Naseem’s action and stated that the bowler’s ability to bowl in-swingers had been a big positive for Pakistan from the Asia Cup.
“What I love about him is his follow-through. The way he bends down, puts all the pressure on his front leg. A very clean action, that’s very important. His front-arm is high, he gets the out-swing because of that,” said Akram.
“In the recent Asia Cup, he now bowls big in-swingers with the new ball. The Dubai pitch helps him bowling as well. It gave him confidence as a bowler, and of course, now as an all-rounder!” the former Pakistan pacer said as he passed a chuckle.