In an age siding with T20 cricket, how often does one hear a modern-day cricketer making it count in Test Cricket?
Few cricketers get to play Test Cricket in the first place. Even fewer get to cement their place. But only a select few succeed in making headlines in a relatively short run.
But Pakistan’s Naseem Shah can proudly say that at an age of 16, where most of his contemporaries are either warming benches in the domestic circuit or grinding their way out in a bid to seek national contention, he’s already become a world record-breaking material.
On Day 3 of the First Test between Pakistan and Bangladesh, Naseem Shah, a teenage sensation broke the visitor’s back by clinching a sublime hat trick to turn the opening Test in his team’s favor.
But at the heart of Naseem Shah’s hat-trick was the manner in which he claimed his hits.
At first, he got the left-handed Shanto out plumb, the batsman caught in front to a peach of a delivery that moved just a bit inward after pitching around outside off.
Next up, he got the night-watchman, Islam, out plumb in front once again. He didn’t have to bother to check with the umpire or go for a review for that’s how plumb he was.
Next up, was the big fish Mahmadullah, offered a regulation catch to first slip playing at ball far away from his body, the batsman out for naught.
In so doing, Naseem Shah not only made the Bangladesh side stumble, having recovered well, sitting poised at over 120- for – 2, he clinched a special feat; in taking the first hat-trick of his career, one that’s only just begun.
That said, nothing could possibly highlight the outstanding feat of the young 16-year-old pace prodigy of Pakistan other than saying that Naseem Shah became the youngest ever bowler in Test cricket history to claim a hat trick.
Pakistan, as a result of young Shah’s brilliant spell at Rawalpindi, earned an innings victory to seize the early advantage in the first home five-day series on home soil in easily over a decade of the absence of any kind of cricket in this part of the sub-continent.
What was rather interesting from the home team’s perspective is that Shah, who was only playing the 4th Test of his career, clinched a special Test hat-trick in just his maiden Test on home soil.
In reply to Pakistan’s first-inning score of a burly 445, an effort emboldened by newly appointed captain Babar Azam’s superb ton – a knock that produced 143 stellar runs- Naseem Shah’s vigorous effort of 4 for 26 dented a huge blow to Bangladesh’s chances of salvaging something meaningful from a Test where they were found wanting in all departments of the game.
That said, here’s something more interesting.
In becoming the youngest Test bowler ever to emerge with a fantastic hat-trick, Shah bettered, none other than a Bangladesh bowler Alok Kapali, who’d taken a hat trick way back in 2003.
The youngest to the feat
Picture by BBC
Fast, aggressive and gifted with the ability to attack batsmen with unsparing bounce and skiddy pace, Naseem Shah, it could be said, is one of the best things to have happened to one of cricket’s most mercurial sides alongside the likes of Shaheen Afridi.
Thus far, Shah, who debuted in Australia last year as the year was drawing to a close has already, captured 13 Test wickets from just 4 games.
The dismissals of Najmul Hossain Shanto, nightwatchman Taijul Islam, and Mahmadullah in the second innings formed the highlight of the young teenager’s effort.
But Shah, who’s still perhaps got nearly 2 decades of Cricket in his repertoire, given all the youthful exuberance, will look to bowl consistently well surprising the hapless visitors ahead.