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The Rise of a Shah

“Where are you going to pitch it?”

“On the pitch, hopefully” replies Naseem Shah with a chuckle during an Islamabad United training session on a cold February evening.

A Pathan by the lineage but quadra-lingual due to his chosen path, Naseem, who is making a much-awaited return to cricket after being sidelined from cricket in September owing to a troublesome shoulder injury, has always had his way with words in the interviews and sometimes his actions. May it be mimicking his national teammate Azam Khan’s way of walking mid-game or him replying with “kutt badi pendi aa T20 ch” (bowlers get whacked a lot in T20, you know) while chuckling when asked about the possibility of him talking a 5fer in the PSL during an interview with Aftab Tabi. Of the Tabi Leaks.

As he turns 21 today, Naseem already has 98 international wickets in 50 games averaging 28.44 and taking a wicket every 40th delivery. Almost a prodigy of sorts, Naseem can move the ball both ways at some serious pace, being able to clock in at almost 150 kilometres per hour. Something that troubled his fielding cohorts during his teenage days of playing in Lahore U16s.

“No one is taking the catches off my bowling”, asked Naseem to his coach Mr Sulaman Qadir, the son of Legendary Pakistan spinner Abdul Qadir. “That’s because you are bowling a little too fast for them”, replied Sulaman to Naseem, who had moved from his rather remote and humble abode in Lower Dir, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to Lahore at a tender age of 13 back in 2016. “I liked watching Shane Bond” said Naseem during his Wisden interview with Aadya Sharma, who also narrated the aforementioned story of him being a little too fast for the poor Under 16s fielders.

And it’s rather easy to see. His physical build, bowling action and bowling style, all have a lot of shades to the legendary Shane Bond. While it is not feasible anymore to clock over 145 clicks each delivery like Bond used to, mainly due to the far bigger workload in the modern cricketing era along with the compromised health and fitness owing to COVID, Naseem is still in essence a spiritual successor to Shane Bond.

With his international career spanning almost 5 years, Naseem has already featured in multiple Asia cups, a T20 World Cup and a few test matches overseas along with a test hat-trick which he got at just the age of 16. He has gained a lot of experience on and off the field, the accolades came along with some heavy personal loss in his mother and many fitness issues owing to a terrible management of his workload.

“Those two sixes caused one of biggest spikes in the sales of our bats” says Uzair Minhas during his interview with Backward Point Podcast, Uzair is the owner of UZ Sports, the brand that sponsors the Naseem Shah’s bat, specifically the one that he used to hit the now unforgettable two sixes against Afghanistan in the last over of the game at Sharjah to take Pakistan to the final of the Asia Cup 2022.

Hunain and Ubaid Shah

But the future is not only bright, it already at such a young age has a sense of a developing legacy. Naseem’s younger brothers Hunain and Ubaid, who were just 12 and 10 when Naseem first moved to Lahore, have now evolved into their own versions of fast bowling giants thanks to the player development program of the PSL franchise Lahore Qalandars.

“His (Naseem’s) selection and rise boosted my confidence, it was him who encouraged me to attend the under 19 trials which led to my selection for Central Punjab” said Hunain during an interview on the PCB YouTube channel. Hunain has already featured in 30 games for Central Punjab and got 46 wickets averaging 29.15 and striking every 36th delivery.

“I was told just to be myself and not try to pull anything unnatural” said Ubaid Shah to BBN Sports after taking 2/49 in the Asia Cup game against India U19 when asked about his discussion with Naseem before the game.

Ubaid has been a revelation for the Pakistan U-19 team throughout the Asia Cup and the World Cup, taking 32 wickets in just 12 games averaging just 15 and striking every 20th with a 5fer that helped take Pakistan to the semifinals of the U19 World Cup 2024 in a low-scoring thriller against Bangladesh.


With PSL 8 almost here, Ubaid turned 18, just 10 days ago while Hunain turned 20 a day before that. All three of the Shah brothers are supposed to be featured in the PSL franchise Islamabad United, which might be a rare modern instance of three brothers playing for the same franchise.

With age, talent and knowledge all on their side, it might be fair to say that the future might belong to the Shah brothers.


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