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Pakistan teen Naseem could be 'surprise package' in Australia - coach

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By James Redmayne

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Pakistan coach Misbah-ul-Haq is eager to see what schoolboy paceman Naseem Shah can produce on Australia’s fast pitches despite concerns over the 16-year-old’s readiness for the rigours of test cricket.

Naseem, who has played only five first class matches since his 2018 debut for Zarai Taraqiati Bank Limited, was named in Pakistan’s squad for the two-test series against Tim Paine’s Australia which begins in Brisbane next month.

With Naseem to lock horns with Steve Smith, the world’s top-ranked batsman, if selected, critics in Pakistan fear the callow cricketer could be in for a harrowing debut Down Under.

However, former Pakistan captain Misbah, also the side’s chief selector, said his team were keen to throw him in the deep end.

“In all spells he’s bowling quick and his control with the ball is also good,” Misban told reporters in Sydney on Monday.

“So we’re looking forward that he can just bowl well here in Australia where the conditions may just give him some sort of assistance and getting some pace and bounce from these wickets.

“Everybody is excited to just get him in the team also.

“We’re looking forward that if he can just put the ball in the right areas with that kind of pace, (he) could be a surprise package.”

Misbah has placed a premium on youth in the upcoming Twenty20 and test series, selecting 19-year-old Musa Khan in both his squads, with a third teenage quick in Shaheen Afridi also picked for the tests.

Pakistan have never won a test series in Australia in over six decades of trying and the Misbah-captained team that last toured in 2016/17 was whitewashed 3-0.

While Pakistan have long been described as unpredictable for their seesawing performances in all formats, Misbah said he was seeking more consistency from his team.

“Obviously we want to use that unpredictability in a good manner, in a positive manner,” he said.

“We don’t want to just go there and sometimes fail.

“We need to be more consistent with our good performances and that’s what we are trying to do at the moment.”

Pakistan play the first of three T20 matches against Australia in Sydney on Sunday.

(Reporting by James Redmayne; Writing by Ian Ransom; Editing by and Christopher Cushing)

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