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'Whoever steps up, they are in for a very good career' - Shan Masood
Pakistan tour of Australia 2019

'Whoever steps up, they are in for a very good career' - Shan Masood

Shan Masood went to great length while answering questions in the press conference ahead of the first Test against Australia in Brisbane on Thursday, November 21.

Shan dismissed the notion of unfamiliarity with the conditions and referred to the famous Gabba Test in 2016 where Pakistan, courtesy of Asad Shafiq's defiance, went onto amass in excess of 400 while chasing a mammoth 489 target.

"I don't think (conditions) are unfamiliar as far as our team is concerned. Down the line, we were here in 2016 and I think the batting line up then - we have got three guys that played in the last tour and even some players from the lower order.

"They posted about 400-odd runs while chasing [489] so they have got some experience as far as The Gabba is concerned and I think preparation in Perth has (helped us). We have done as much as we could to prepare and the experience in the batting order will help us settle in well.

The hype around Naseem Shah is growing by the day after the young sensation showed phenomenal courage in the aftermath of the demise of her mother and the young fast bowler's decision to field in the tour game was unbelievably mature act - keeping in view his tender age. Shan reflected on the young sensation's cricket journey and how the players along with team management are taking care of the newbie.

"This season was my first experience of seeing Naseem Shah as a bowler. It's very exciting seeing a 16-year-old come to the fold and take the domestic circuit by surprise.

'Hopefully, Naseem is going to be a star in the making' - Shan

"I don't know if you follow our domestic season or not, pitches are quite docile [in Pakistan] but Naseem was the standout bowler there and after the sad loss of his mother, I think he [showed] great guts and we should appreciate what he did; stepping out on the field and he produced a great spell. I hope he plays and I am sure if he plays he is going to enjoy bowling on such tracks against such a formidable team like Australia.

ALSO READ: Naseem Shah shows great promise as tour match ends in a draw

"I think losing a parent is irreplaceable, and the guts, the courage he showed to step out on the field and do it for his family, do it for his mother, his team and country is quite commendable. We are all the way in Australia, the other end of the world, and not going back, staying here and putting his hand up that he wants to do well for the team, for the country, that's commendable and I think that is going to reward him; that sort of attitude is what we are looking for in all the guys.

"A 16-year-old being that mature, If we only talk about how he is doing in cricket right now, that's a lot of maturity.  As a team, we are all trying to stick behind him and support. I think we are all very happy with how he has responded and hopefully he is going to be a star in the making.

Steve Smith's penchant for scoring tons was conspicuous in his comeback to the Test arena during the Ashes a few months ago and the number one ranked batsman will be looking to shred Pakistan bowling attack in home conditions. Shan has denied being obsessed with planning to get him out early and the notion of focusing all efforts on the modern-day great.

"As a player, as a spectator of the game, I think it's very refreshing to see somebody play the game on his own terms and defy what the textbooks have said out. And that's what we have been always told to do when we started the game: to know your own game and to play according to your own strengths. I think he (Smith) has done that really well and I think his stats speak for himself.

"He is a great player; as far as our planning is concerned, you can't sort of go on the loop of planning against just one batsman. I think they have got a very good side especially in their home conditions and they are always a tough side to beat in Australia. We can't get into the trap of just planning against Steve Smith. I think if we stick to our strengths and respect the conditions and respect the opposition, I am sure we are here to put up a good show as well," Shan explained.

Mitchell Starc seldom disappoints his skipper with the bowl and is a captain's dream when a wicket is needed. His pace, left-arm liquid rolling action, ability to spear yorkers in the blockhole and a plethora of tricks up his sleeves is going to put Pakistan batsmen to a stern challenge. Shan, however, shares a different school of thought and says it feels good to come out on top against the best in the business.

"You obviously like facing what you have faced before. Look, Mitchell Starc is a great bowler. He has done well for Australia for a number of years and he is the [leader] of that bowling attack. He has been there for several years. We [want to] play against the best and when you do well against the best, that's when it counts the most. Whatever Australia put out we are ready to face that.

Shan believes Pakistan has got a well-rounded bowling attack that boasts a potent combination of experience and exuberant youth that has enough in the tank to outsmart strong Australian line-up.

"We have got Muhammad Musa in the side, he is 18-year-old, bowls 90mph and we have got some experience with [Mohammd] Abbas, who has been up there in the Test rankings.

"We have got Imran Khan, making a comeback. He did really well in the side game for us as well. We have got one of the best spinners in the world in Yasir Shah. Shaheen Shah Afridi has been formidable for Pakistan in all formats. As a whole unit, we did a decent enough job to give ourselves a good chance in this series. The dressing room is quite vibrant [since we have] a lot of exciting new guys.

Shan opines Test cricket has become attractive both in and out of the subcontinent as we get results more often than not. He thinks batsmen might have to score at a swift strike rate and on other occasions remain watchful.

"I don't believe in predetermining so many things but with the way Test cricket is going, we have seen that (outside and even in the subcontinent) Test matches hardly last five days so if you look at that then that means the amount of time you will get on the field will be less than what you will get in five days.

"I think the scoring rate would have to be up there but with good bowling line ups in both teams, there will be times when you will have to sort of knuckle down and spend time at the crease as well but there will be times when you have to score quickly to put some scoreboard pressure to get an advantage in the game.

ALSO READ: Vivacious Asad sends positive vibes ahead of daunting Australia Tests

Pakistan will kick off their ICC World Test Championship (WTC) campaign from the outset of two-Test match series. Shan reflects on how the team is still wrapping their heads around the one of a kind addition to ICC tournaments and thinks it adds extra 'incentive' for the players.

 'If we do succeed over here, it could be history in the making' - Shan

"I think we are still settling in terms of accepting World Test Championship. It's too early to look into the final which is in two years time but it's a great opportunity. The points that are available in both Test matches are quite significant because it's a two test match series. I don't think there will be an added pressure, I think there will be an added incentive, nothing would be a dead rubber here. We will be looking to get as many points as possible.

Dean Jones has been involved with Pakistan Super League (PSL) and keenly follows Pakistan cricket. He was not happy with the scheduling of tour games, considering Pakistan hasn't played a Test since January in this year.

"Everyone has a right to their opinion; with Dean Jones, his work with PSL franchise and [now] he is going to move to another PSL franchise, he knows his stuff about Pakistan cricket because he has been there for three-four years, working with the boys, but I would look at it as a great opportunity.

"If something people say is not possible, imagine getting results in your way. All of us in the dressing room look at it as an opportunity. If it doesn't happen, we will learn from it. If we do succeed over here, it could be history in the making. Whoever steps up, they are in for a very good career," Shan remarked.