Pakistan in West Indies 2017 April 5, 2017

Mushtaq keen on Shadab-Yasir combination


Shadab Khan won the Player of the Series award in his debut T20I series, taking 10 wickets in four matches against West Indies © AFP

Mushtaq Ahmed, head coach at Pakistan's National Cricket Academy, has suggested that Pakistan could include Shadab Khan in their Test bowling attack even if that meant playing two legspinners. While saying it was "too early" to predict how Shadab would fare in Test cricket, Mushtaq said he had the tools to succeed and would benefit from spending more time with Yasir Shah, Pakistan's first-choice Test legspinner, and picking his brains.

Pakistan have a rich history with legspinners but have only rarely played two at the same time. Mushtaq himself played only one Test alongside Abdul Qadir, against West Indies in Karachi in 1990, two alongside Shahid Afridi, and two - both times against South Africa in 2003 - alongside Danish Kaneria.

Kaneria and Afridi, however, featured together far more frequently, doing so in 17 Tests.

Pakistan have already unleashed Shadab in T20Is after a productive second edition of the Pakistan Super League. Shadab, only 18, won the Player of the Series award in his debut T20I series against West Indies, picking up ten wickets in four matches, and has found a place in Pakistan's ODI squad as well. Given he can bat as well - he already has a first-class hundred, having played only four games so far - Pakistan might be mulling playing him in Tests as well, alongside Yasir, who has been a fixture in their side since his debut in 2014.

"I think the focus of selection committee and all of us is that why can't two legspinners play in one match?" Mushtaq told reporters on the sidelines of an ongoing conditioning camp for the Test squad. "If they have different variations and both could become match-winners, then why not? Two legspinners against a western team will have a positive impact, especially in one-day cricket if we have a legspin option in the middle overs who could take wickets.

"Like I started my career with Qadir, then Iqbal Sikander and myself played together in the [1992] World Cup, then Shahid Afridi and Danish Kaneria played together.

"Shadab has good variations, but 50 overs and five-day formats are totally different. I think he has all the variations. He had a lot of communication with Yasir also during the [pre-tour conditioning] camp [last month]. He's a good listener and has a good temperament and if he stays with Yasir he will improve more. But it's too early to predict about Shadab, how he will play in Test matches. Yasir has proved himself over the last two years and he has no match. He [Shadab] could learn from Yasir like I learnt from Qadir bhai and then Danish learnt from me when I was his senior."

As many as 13 probables in contention for Test spots are currently undergoing a conditioning camp at Gaddafi Stadium as the selectors prepare to name a final squad over the next two days. Pakistan have already won the T20I series 3-1. The three-match ODI series - which will be played in Guyana's Providence Stadium - will start from April 7, followed by three Test matches.

Mushtaq, who spent a year and half as Pakistan's bowling coach before taking over as the NCA head coach, said Pakistan had a good chance of beating West Indies in the ODIs and strengthening their chances of qualifying directly for the 2019 World Cup.

"It's almost like UAE conditions," Mushtaq said. "Our spinners and reverse-swing will play an important role. West Indies team is establishing itself at the moment, their main players are not playing and we have more advantage. Our focus should be on reverse-swing and spinners, the conditions suit us in West Indies.

"Our Test team is quite established, conditions will suit us and our team will do good in the West Indies. But [in the ODIs] Pakistan will be under pressure of qualifiers and Pakistan has to play positive cricket to come out of this pressure. Babar Azam and Shoaib Malik have to perform, Saify [Sarfraz Ahmed] has to perform too along with captaincy. Pakistan should play hard and see that they have to make impact in the Champions Trophy - that they can score 300 runs and can defend 300 runs."

Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo's Pakistan correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • saadr17362653 on April 5, 2017, 23:35 GMT

    Go head.. Shadab Khan, Yasir Shah, Mohammed Asghar, all in XI playing.. along with Rumman Raees, Mohammed Amir, Wahab Riaz fast bowling. And batting as Azhar Ali, Fakhar Zaman, Babar Azam, Younis Khan. And Mohammed Rizwan as keeper. Great team!

  • Jawwad on April 5, 2017, 21:39 GMT

    Leg spin, off break, leggie, leg break are just cliches, really if you ask me. You are either a good bowler slow or fast or a good batsman opener or middle. If your bowling can get opposition keep thinking and befuddling and taking wickets you should be in playing 11. If all 5 bowlers bowl slow but taking wickets and get the opposition out then play five slow bowlers. Didn't WI and Australia win world cups and countless test matches with all fast bowlers?

  • Jawwad on April 5, 2017, 21:25 GMT

    Babar Azam should be in Test squad instead of Twenty20. Though he is a pure One day batsman. However, I think playing twenty20 is putting undue pressure om him of scoring quick.

  • sam on April 5, 2017, 20:34 GMT

    I agree with @ZahidSaltin that slowly Shadab Khan needs to bat at 7. May not on his debut. May be after a couple of test caps. He can be developed into the all-rounder which Pakistan tried with Md. Nawaz but failed. @AarifBoy It is basically Jadeja who has improved immensely under Kumble. Previously, he could only bowl at 90-95k. Now he has learnt to slow down couple of deliveries every over (between 77-87k) and the balls he is bowling slower he is getting both dip and drift. He has become a world class bowler from being just a slow turning pitch bowler. Ashwin has been at this level for last 2 years. In fact because of injury and not being fully fit, the Aus vs India test series was Ashwin's worst test series in last 2 years. Ashwin hasn't gained much from Kumble but one can argue that he was already really good before Kumble became coach.

  • Ahsen Khan on April 5, 2017, 20:08 GMT

    no point of having to leg break bowlers in playing eleven.

  • mahmoo3521013 on April 5, 2017, 18:46 GMT

    I think Pak should stick Shadab with LOI

  • imran on April 5, 2017, 16:04 GMT

    No harm in trying but I would have kept in only limited over cricket for a year or so. Same applies on Babar Azam. They did bad experiment with Sharjeel too.

  • Steve on April 5, 2017, 14:28 GMT

    Strange Mushtaq wants two leg-spinner combination, one of whom has lost his effectiveness badly in recent series altogether. I thought leg & off spinner combination is what you want for variety.

  • Arif on April 5, 2017, 14:02 GMT

    Mushtaq is better as a Bowling coach rather than head coach of NCA. Yasir who became second fastest to reach 100 wickets in tests is struggling ever since Mushtaq left Pakistan team.Look how well Jadeja and Ashwin are doing under Kumble.

  • shahid on April 5, 2017, 13:35 GMT

    Pakistan badly needs a quality off-spiner in tests and some hard hitters in the limited over cricket.