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'His responsibilities have increased' - Mushtaq Ahmed defends Yasir Shah after off-colour day
Pakistan News

'His responsibilities have increased' - Mushtaq Ahmed defends Yasir Shah after off-colour day

Pakistan spin bowling coach Mushtaq Ahmed conceded Yasir Shah was unable to outfox the England batsmen according to the desired levels of domination but argued that the leg-spinner's duties had multiplied in the presence of an inexperienced pace line-up.

Although Yasir was the leading wicket-taker for Pakistan on a day marked by Zak Crawley's imposing ton, he was subjected to some lusty blows in the final session encapsulating England's command over the game.

Having looked Pakistan's most threatening bowler across the series so far, Yasir was largely negated by Crawley and Jos Buttler's positive intent with the latter dispatching a slew of boundaries in one over off him in an attempt to dent his confidence.

Yasir finished the day with figures of two for 107 from 28 overs – not the kind of statistics Pakistan would expect from their chief bowling weapon.

However, Mushtaq sympathised with Yasir's struggles and focused on the added burden on him to control the flow of runs.

"When a spinner bowls alongside young fast bowlers, he has two main responsibilities. First, you have to dry up the runs and [then] also pick up wickets," Mushtaq told reporters.

"You would have observed that he bowled a spell of 28 overs and all day it was against the wind. England's plan has been to attack him and not let him settle, which adds a lot of pressure on Yasir.

"We have been trying to reduce the burden on Yasir and have been telling him that he's a match-winner who should be looking for wickets."

Mushtaq, who was a leg-spinner himself during his playing days, claimed that in the past the likes of Mohammad Amir and other senior pacers were able to keep the lid on the scoring rate and give Yasir the freedom to charge on the opposite end.

"His responsibilities have increased as previously we used to have Amir or other senior bowlers who were able to contain runs and we would use Yasir to attack. So, the onus on Yasir has risen and I think he is enjoying the challenge.

"Today, he bowled very well as Shane Warne mentioned in the commentary but at the end of the day, England managed to attack him and he understandably struggled."

"We still believe in his abilities to get you wickets," Mushtaq reiterated.

'The more Naseem bowls, the better bowler he will become'

Assessing the overall performance of the team, the 50-year-old concluded that the pitch was quite favourable for batting.

He felt strong gusts of wind hampered Pakistan's ability to sustain consistent lines, which would have resulted in unnerving the batters.

"It was quite tough, the weather played a huge role and the pitch was very flat. Obviously, the toss was very vital on this pitch and the wind was blowing too hard, making it difficult for the bowlers to maintain their lines and lengths consistently," he stated.

"It was tough especially for the youngsters such as Naseem Shah and Shaheen Afridi but we can still be proud of their efforts. We are working on them regarding coping with pressure situations. But remember this was a first-day pitch, and it was very tough for the bowlers."

On the topic of Naseem Shah being potentially overworked in his short Test career, Mushtaq rejected this notion and conveyed the message of requiring experience to grow at the highest level.

"Naseem didn't bowl too many overs in the first two Tests. To learn Test cricket, Naseem will have to experience Test cricket."

"The more he bowls in difficult conditions, the better bowler he will become. He has the talent but this is the most important learning process. The quicker he learns from his mistakes, the stronger Pakistan's bowling attack will get."