There is no pressure on me because of Shadab. I am happy that there is a leg-spinner who can win matches for Pakistan. – Yasir Shah
If you asked somebody to name a leg-spinner from Pakistan a few months ago, they would have named Yasir Shah instantly. But the scenario has changed dramatically since Shadab Khan first appeared in the PSL this year. A bowler with immaculate line and length and the ability to move the ball both ways, Shadab was fast-tracked to the national side for the limited-overs series against the West Indies after an outstanding leg-spin display during the tournament. His immaculate line and length bowling combined with his ability to prodigiously turn the ball both ways got him 10 scalps at an average of 7.50 in a four-match T20I series.
He picked up his first international wicket with the most lethal delivery in his repertoire – googly – on his second ever ball. Shadab’s extremely effective googly at such a young age makes him the most sought-after leggie in Pakistan.
Yasir, on the other hand, had often remained under criticism for his inability to bowl googly. With Shadab looking forward to his maiden ODI appearance against the West Indies this Friday, Yasir is darting myriad deliveries in the nets every day in a bid to enhance his skillset by developing a venomous googly.
“I am working to improve my googlies these days,” Yasir said to the reporters at the Qaddafi Stadium in Lahore. He reiterated his work on googly twice in a four-minute-long press conference.
“I am trying to keep myself fit and doing drills with Mushi bhai [Mushtaq Ahmed]. I am looking forward to the tour of the West Indies. I have been to the Windies with Pakistan ‘A’ and conditions there really suit the spin-bowlers.
“There is no pressure on me because of Shadab. I am happy that there is a leg-spinner who can win matches for Pakistan.”
Pakistan’s former leg-spinner Mushtaq Ahmed, who has been working with Yasir since his Test debut, ruled out any competition between the two earlier. “There is no competition between Yasir and Shadab,” Mustaq said with the 30-year-old besides him. “Yasir is an established bowler and he has been winning matches for Pakistan for two years. A bowler is determined by his performances in the Test and ODI format and Shadab is yet to prove himself in the longer formats.
“We fail to take wickets in the middle overs but that problem can now be overcome by having Yasir and Shadab in the line-up. We can certainly play two leggies in a side. When I was starting my career, I played with Abdul Qadir. Danish Kaneria and Shahid Afridi have also featured in a playing XI together.”
Mushtaq rejected the notion of a competition between Yasir and Shadab entirely. But Yasir knows that he will be compared with Shadab from now on. This may shape out in a rivalry and there might be a loser out of it. But one thing is for sure the eventual beneficiary is going to be Pakistan.