Excited himself for the talented youngsters' debut in the final match of the three-match Test series at Abu Dhabi, skipper Sarfaraz Ahmed has predicted that left-arm pacer Shaheen Afridi could well have a "10 or 12 years" long career at the highest level for Pakistan.
An unfortunate shoulder injury to the immensely skillful Mohammad Abbas during the second Test at Dubai has paved the way towards an opportunity for Shaheen to wear the Test whites for his country.
"If I get a chance I will do my best. I always had belief in my ability and in my hard work although I didn't expect my chance will come in Tests so early," the 18-year-old told AFP on Saturday, December 1.
Shaheen has also had a good start to his first-class career back home where he claimed 8/39 in a spell bowled during a Quaid-e-Azam Trophy match, which is also best figures for a Pakistan bowler on red-ball debut.
His rise to the Pakistan team began at home in Landi Kotal, a town in the Khyber District, close to the border with Afghanistan, where his elder brother Riaz who played one Test for Pakistan in 2000, gave him his first bowling lessons, has been quite inspiring, to say the least.
1.98 meter tall, Shaheen first came into limelight with his exploits in the ICC U-19 Cricket World Cup in New Zealand, earlier this year.
"We wanted to make him part of the Test team. He bowled well against England Lions and that brought him in to the reckoning. He has pace and can reverse swing the ball. He is improving day by day and that’s why he is in the Pakistan team," Sarfaraz said ahead of the all-important decider starting December 3, "He has talent and is a good boy, learns fast and understands. If he keeps himself in good shape, he can play for Pakistan for the next 10 to 12 years."
Meanwhile, Yasir Shah simply ran through the Kane Williamson led side and returned with astonishing match-figures of 14/184 in Pakistan's series-levelling innings & 16 runs victory.
It is the beautiful drift away from the right-handers and that classical dip on the surface that stood out from Yasir, who now has taken 195 Test wickets from just 32 games at the highest level.
Showering huge praise on the fantastic leg-spinner, the wicketkeeper-batsman also said, "The way he’s bowling, he has got his rhythm back, and we hope that with the return of his form he will do his best to win this game for us. And as a team, we’ll do our best to win this Test and the series,"
"It was a good all-round performance by the whole team in the last game. It has built confidence in all three departments," he signed off.
(Inputs from N Sport)