Azhar Mahmood confident that Pakistan teenager Shaheen Afridi can become world's best

Waseem Ahmed 18/02/2019
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Shaheen Afridi has been touted to achieve big things.

Pakistan bowling coach Azhar Mahmood has heaped praise on young pacer Shaheen Afridi and believes he has the potential to become the best bowler in the world in the future.

The 18-year-old has been making waves in international cricket ever since he made his T20 debut against West Indies in April, last year following his breakthrough displays in the 2018 ICC U19 World Cup and the Pakistan Super League (PSL).

Young Afridi has already established himself as a regular for Pakistan in all thee formats after being given his maiden Test cap in the recent tour of South Africa. The teenager is currently playing in his second PSL campaign for Lahore Qalandars and has already put in an eye-catching display against Karachi Kings.

Writing in his weekly blog for pakpassion.net, Mahmood lauded the youngster’s progress over the last year in international cricket.

“I must say that I am extremely impressed with Shaheen Shah Afridi’s progress so far. He already has skill and potential and is fast learning the art of fast-bowling which is extremely encouraging for us. We are, however, working on a few things with him namely on his run-up and his delivery stride so that it is more balanced,” wrote Mahmood.

Afridi recently made his Test debut for Pakistan.

Afridi recently made his Test debut for Pakistan.

“In my mind, there is no doubt that he will get better and better with time and he has all the ingredients to become one of the best bowlers in the world. He has everything and most importantly he is mentally sharp, he wants to learn, he wants to adapt his game because he is not shy to try different things with the ball.

“As a coach it makes things much easier when you have a bowler who is eager to learn and willing to try different things to improve himself.”

Afridi has performed admirably for Pakistan across all thee formats so far. His 10 ODI appearances have fetched 19 wickets while he has 13 scalps in nine T20s. In his three Test appearances, the left-armed pacer has picked up 12 wickets with a best of 4-64.

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Pakistan batsman Babar Azam says he is not even close to Virat Kohli yet

Waseem Ahmed 11/02/2019
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Babar Azam.

Pakistan batsman Babar Azam has distanced himself from comparisons with India batting great Virat Kohli.

Azam’s attacking strokeplay and rich returns in all formats have seen him being compared to Kohli. The 24-year-old Azam averages more than 50 in ODI and T20s and is the fastest to reach 1,000 runs in the 20-over format.

In ODIs, his record after 59 matches is much better than that of Kohli at the same stage. Babar has 2,462 runs and eight centuries after 59 matches. At that stage of his career, Kohli has 300 fewer runs and had scored five tons.

Kohli made a relatively slow start and blossomed in the later part of his career, becoming one of the finest batsman of his generation and arguably of all time.

During a PSL 2019 event for his franchise Karachi Kings, Azam was asked about the comparisons and the talented batsman said it is too early for it.

“People keep comparing me to Virat Kohli. He is a very big player and I am not even close to him as of now. I have just started my career and he has already achieved a lot in his career. I have to reach that stage,” Azam said.

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Pakistan pacer Mohammad Amir to play for Essex in 2019 T20 Blast

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Mohammad Amir has already played for Essex in the T20 Blast.

Pakistan paceman Mohammad Amir will return to Essex this year for part of their Vitality Blast campaign.

The left-armer had a stint with the club in 2017, helping them on their way to County Championship glory as he took career-best match figures of 10 for 72 in a win over Yorkshire at Scarborough.

Amir, whose international career has comprised of 36 Tests, 49 one-day internationals and 42 Twenty20s, will be available for eight games in this year’s Blast, including Essex’s opener against Middlesex at Lord’s on July 18.

“I’m very excited to return to Chelmsford and re-join my Essex team-mates,” the 26-year-old said. “I thoroughly enjoyed my time here in 2017 and I’m looking forward to playing my role in the club’s success this season.”

Due to family commitments, the 26-year-old will miss the games against against Surrey and Kent while his final match for Essex is set to be against Glamorgan on August 16.

Head coach Anthony McGrath said: “Mo is one of the most exciting bowling talents in the world and I’m ecstatic he’s going to be back with us.”

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