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Naseem set to create history as Pakistan gear up for Brisbane Test

Rookie pacer will make his Test debut against Australia in first Test

PHOTO COURTESY: Cricket Australia

Pakistan’s 16-year-old pacer Naseem Shah is all set to make his Test debut in the first of tw0-match series against Australia in Brisbane, starting on Thursday, November 21.  

The visiting team’s captain Azhar Ali revealed, in a press conference on Wednesday, that Naseem will be part of Pakistan’s lineup for the first Test.

"We are definitely looking to play him," said Azhar. "He’s bowling really well. We’ll announce the side tomorrow but he’s definitely going to be part of it.”

Naseem will create history as soon as he steps onto the field by becoming the youngest player to make a Test debut in Australia.

Naseem, whose mother died last week, has only played seven first-class games, but impressed with a fiery eight-over spell against Australia A in Perth in the build-up.

Azhar also heaped praise on the rookie pacer by admiring the talent he possessed with the ball.

"Not many players can reach that standard so early but there are exceptions and he’s one of them. We are all looking forward to him having a very successful career,” he said. “When I saw him first I was so surprised ... the control he had, the pace he had and on top of it all the temperament and the composure when he bowls is so exciting to see."

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Meanwhile Australia captain Tim Paine also believes that Naseem is a really exciting talent and he was looking forward to playing against him.

"I played against a few [16-year-olds] last week in club cricket. Certainly at Test level it’s a bit unusual but by the looks of him he looks a really exciting talent. Pakistan have got a knack of finding these young fast-bowlers. He looks like another one that’s going to add to that rich history of fast-bowlers they seem to produce," said Paine.

Smith carried his side in the recent Ashes series against England and Paine said he wanted to see the rest of the batsmen offer him more support against Pakistan.

"Probably during the Ashes we relied too heavily on Steve, so the rest of top seven are really keen to score a lot of runs," he said. "Traditionally we love batting in Australia, we have had some real success on this ground, it's a great ground to bat on if you can get in and spend a lot of time out there."

Joe Burns, who scored a century in his last Test against Sri Lanka in February, is expected to open with Warner. Smith or Marnus Labuschagne will bat at number three, followed by Travis Head, Matthew Wade and Paine.

Coach Justin Langer echoed Paine's call for more consistency from Australia's batting line-up.

"We're number five in the world in Test cricket at the moment, and there's reasons for that," said Langer. "One of them is that we don't score 300-plus in the first innings enough. Our batters are very aware of that. We're not going to shy away from that. It's no secret. We know we've got to keep improving and I'm confident we will."

Australia squad

Tim Paine (c), Cameron Bancroft, Joe Burns, Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Michael Neser, James Pattinson, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Matthew Wade, David Warner

Pakistan squad

Azhar Ali (c), Abid Ali, Asad Shafiq, Babar Azam, Haris Sohail, Imam-ul-Haq, Imran Khan Snr, Iftikhar Ahmed, Kashif Bhatti, Mohammad Abbas, Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Musa Khan, Naseem Shah, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Shan Masood, Yasir Shah.