LAHORE: PCB’s Digital Pairs series for Test players has gained great popularity among the fans, current and former players, pundits and journalists. The campaign entered its third phase today Sunday, 3 May, with the followers asked to name two fast bowling pairs of their choice.
Pakistan’s highest Test wicket-taker Wasim Akram made a weighty contribution to the campaign by choosing the 1954 Oval Test hero Fazal Mehmood as his bowling partner. The legendary fast bowler then singled out Naseem Shah as the bowler he would have wanted to pair with among the current generation of Pakistan Test fast bowlers.
Wasim Akram said: “PCB has started a great initiative of bringing together Pakistan’s Test stars in form of pairs. I was asked to pick a fast bowler who wore Pakistan’s golden star before me as my bowling partner.
“I have bowled with Imran [Khan] Bhai, Waqar [Younis], Shoaib [Akhtar] and [Abdul] Razzaq, but if we talk about the greats who have represented Pakistan in the decades before I played, two names come to my mind, the founder of reverse swing Sarfaraz Nawaz and the Oval Test hero Fazal Mehmood.
“I, being a left-arm swing bowler, would like to pair-up with Fazal Mehmood since he was a right-armer and his leg-cutter was very famous especially on matting wickets.
“If I think about the current stars who are bowling at the moment and considering that I had the fortune of bowling with the number one bowler of my time Waqar Younis, I will pick another right-armer, Naseem Shah. He is a youngster, he bowls at 150 plus and he will only get faster with time.”
Naseem, the youngest to record a Test hat-trick taker, thanked Wasim for choosing him as his bowling partner and is thrilled by the legendary bowler’s confidence in his abilities.
Naseem Shah said: “I am absolutely thrilled and honoured to know that a legend like Wasim Akram has chosen me as his bowling partner. Wasim Bhai spoke to us, fast bowlers, in an online video session last week and gave us tips that I am sure will hold us in good stead for the remainder of our careers.
“Now, him choosing me as his bowling partner is simply fantastic and has provided me a great confidence boost. I look forward to reposing his faith in me and making him and Pakistan fans proud of my bowling in the years ahead.”
Left-arm pacer Shaheen Shah Afridi who has already snared 30 victims in mere eight Test appearances chose the famed Ws duo (Wasim and Waqar) among former stars while Naseem was his pick from the current players.
Shaheen Shah Afridi said: “This is an exciting initiative by the PCB. If I had the choice, I would have loved to bowled with Wasim and Waqar Bhai, while among the present bowlers, I really like bowling with Naseem Shah. I really hope that I can continue to bowl successfully with him.”
The criterion for selection of the bowlers is a minimum of 75 Test wickets.
The aim of the activity is to acknowledge the services of former and present stars of Pakistan cricket. Before fast bowlers, the campaign for openers and middle-order batting pairs received tremendous response.
Among openers, the 90s batting greats Saeed Anwar and Aamir Sohail (qualification minimum 1,000 runs as opener) came out as the most popular pair.
The famed left-handed pair was followed by Saeed Anwar’s paring with Majid Khan, regarded as one of the most stylish and productive openers produced by Pakistan.
Among middle-order batsmen (qualification minimum 2,500 runs in middle-order, batting positions three to seven) the famed middle-order batting duo of Pakistan highest Test run-getter Younus Khan and Mohammad Yousuf emerged as the most popular pair followed by Inzamam-ul-Haq and Mohammad Yousuf, a pair that remained the backbone of Pakistan Test batting in recent history.
The two-day long fast bowlers’ campaign will be followed by dream pairs of spinners, all-rounders and most popular wicketkeeper and captain.