Waqar backs young pace attack to excel in Australia Tests

Pakistan news

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Pakistan bowling coach Waqar Younis is confident that his team's young fast bowling group will deliver the goods in the two-match Test series against Australia, the first of which begins on 21 November in Brisbane.

Pakistan's pace attack features three teenagers in Mohammad Musa, Naseem Shan and Shaheen Afridi, to go with Mohammad Abbas and Imran Khan, who all have just 26 Test caps between them. While they might lack in experience, they've clearly given enough evidence of their skill-sets and capabilities, bundling out the Australia A side for paltry 122 in the three-day practice game in Perth earlier this week.

Waqar realises that a tougher challenge lies ahead of the first Test in Brisbane, but has backed his team's pace battery to meet expectations.

"There will be an intimidating factor, but they have to cope with it and I'm sure these guys will be able to do it," Waqar said in Sydney, where he was honoured by the Bradman Foundation. "I remember my own time when I first arrived in 1989, it's not an easy place to bowl, but with these guys - Mohammad Musa, Naseem Shah and Shaheen Afridi - I'm really excited. Looking at our attack, we have a fair chance of getting Australia [bowled out] early.

"These guys have played a lot of cricket before. They have toured before – not Musa, but Naseem Shah, and of course, Shaheen Afridi, have toured South Africa, so they know these sorts of pitches, where there is more bounce. Of course … an intimidating factor is going to be there, but they have to cope (with) it. I’m sure these guys will be able to do it. I have no doubt in that."

Waqar was especially impressed with the 16-year old Naseem.  “He’s got a very strong action," he said. "He reminds me of Dennis Lillee actually. He’s got a very similar action. He’s not as big as Dennis – Dennis was a big guy – but when he gets it right, he’s a handful. He’s very talented.

“He bowled really well on those bouncy pitches. So I’m really looking forward to see how he bowls against some real quality and experienced players like [David] Warner and [Steve] Smith."

While the younger lot definitely demands attention, the onus still lies on Mohammad Abbas, who is Pakistan's leading bowler in the MRF Tyres ICC Test Bowling Rankings, and had starred in the last series against Australia, in the UAE in 2018, with 17 wickets from two Tests, including a match-winning 10-wicket haul in the second.

"He’s a very smart bowler. He knows what he’s doing," Waqar said. "He reminds me a bit of Glenn McGrath. He bowls that channel really well. He’s been in great form last time Pakistan played Australia, but those pitches were very different. I hope he adapts quickly."

Waqar, who took 373 Test wickets for Pakistan at a mighty impressive strike-rate of 43.4, acknowledged that the Australian conditions offer a lot for the quicks, but laid emphasis on bowling in the right areas, rather than being carried away with pace and bounce.

"Sometimes you get carried away … because of the bounce here," he said. "It makes you feel you’re the world-beater. It’s not the case. You have to really bowl in the right channel to get wickets, which I’ve learnt over the years. That’s my job, to help them out and try to tell them and get the best out of them to bowl in the right areas."

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