Pakistan skipper Azhar Ali backs Naseem Shah and Shaheen Afridi to come good

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Pakistan are set to unleash youthful duo Naseem Shah and Shaheen Afridi on England once again, with captain Azhar Ali insisting they will only benefit from continued exposure.

The pair are among the most exciting up-and-coming seamers around but heading into the decisive third Test they have taken fewer wickets than seasoned veterans Stuart Broad, Mohammad Abbas, Chris Woakes and James Anderson.

Naseem has two wickets at 49.50 with Shaheen’s three costing 45.66. That is not quite a fair reflection of their efforts thus far but there is no doubt that the wily 30-year-old Abbas is the bowler England’s top order least like to face.

Azhar has no doubts that the pair are only getting better and wants them to do their learning on the pitch.

Teenager Naseem Shah has been backed by captain Azhar Ali.
Teenager Naseem Shah has been backed by captain Azhar Ali (Glyn Kirk/PA)

“They are exciting characters but you can’t buy experience without playing. We have to back them,” he said.

“We are lucky enough to have these exciting fast bowlers, although they are young. Naseem is nearly 18 and Shaheen is just 20.

“They are bowling really well, putting the opposition under pressure and we are backing them because you can’t just sit outside and gain experience, you have to play.

“At the end of last year we were struggling for fast bowlers when we went to Australia and they have taken up the challenge and impressed everyone around the world. They have so much potential, experience will come, I still feel they are good enough to win Test matches for Pakistan.”

Abbas, who enjoyed a prolific stint at Leicestershire as he learned to exploit the seaming surfaces of England, admits he feels at home on pitches like the Ageas Bowl.

“I stick to my strengths and assess the conditions by reading the pitch and the batsman,” Abbas told pcb.com.pk.

“I am enjoying the experience of bowling in England. The weather conditions here are conducive for seam bowling and the pronounced seam of the Dukes ball provides assistance to fast bowlers.

“I am excited for the third Test and looking forward to give a performance which will help my team level the series.”

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