Gradually, Shadab Khan is becoming a very effective bowler…..
A lot has been spoken about the importance of an all-rounder across formats; he is no less than gold and brings solid stability and depth in the line-up. His presence not only gives an extra option to the skipper but also a cushion. Not every team in Test cricket is blessed to have an impactful all-rounder, this breed is rare, extremely rare. An all-rounder has to possess immense fitness and extraordinary skill set.
With the evolving standards of the game, each and every position is becoming crucial. There is no place for mediocrity in contemporary cricket, and a weakness is quite easily spotted and further exploited. In order to maintain a proper balance and have a balanced attack, an impactful all-rounder comes handy.
Pakistan are enjoying one heck of a run in the series opener at Lord’s. Slowly and steadily they have been tightening the noose around England with some emphatic performances. At stumps on Day 3, they continue to have an upper-hand despite some valiant resistance from Jos Buttler and Dominic Bess. England now have a modest lead of 56 runs with just four wickets to spare and have a mountain to climb in order to make a comeback.
Pakistan have clicked as a unit and everyone has chipped in, which is commendable. Pakistani all-rounder, Shadab Khan, has had a great time out in the middle with the bat as well as with the ball after a cold start in the first innings while putting in the hard yards. Shadab has been the new sensation in this Pakistani line-up and continues to grow in stature as a reliable all-rounder.
The question is – what generally a 19-year old teenager does? Get into a degree college, get a job, stand out academically or few exceptional minds would be minting money. But here, a 19-year old Shadab is achieving newer heights in Test cricket. After making an impact in shorter formats, especially T20s, the wily leg-spinner is now eyeing to cement a spot in the Test line-up as well.
Wrist-spinners have been the talk of the town in the recent times, they have done exceptionally well across formats, especially in the shortest one. Shadab comes from the same breed, and to add to his good fortunes, he can bat. He can turn the ball away from the right-hander and has a lethal googly in his armoury, which he bowls without any discernible change in action. He is an attacking bowler, but at the same time keeps the run-rate under check, which makes him special.
After a wicketless first innings, Shadab was not bogged down. Pakistani seamers inflicted massive damage and Shadab was not getting enough help from the surface. He came out hard with the bat, scoring a brisk fifty to steer his side to a commanding position. His innings pushed Pakistan a step further towards achieving dominance in this encounter.
Shadab walked out to bat when Babar Azam retired hurt after being struck off the bowling off Ben Stokes. At this stage, Pakistan’s scorecard read: 246-5. This was a delicate situation for Pakistan, another partnership would have put England under the pump, but Shadab ensured he got the job done. Along with Faheem Ashraf, Shadab stitched a crucial 72-run partnership.
Shadab scored 52 off 85 deliveries, which included six boundaries. He looked quite composed and gave a good impression with the bat. Apart from his prowess with the ball, Shadab also has a healthy domestic record with the bat. He has done well in ODI cricket as well.
Runs from the lower-order is always crucial; it is frustrating for the opposition and jubilating for the one getting it. Pakistan’s lower-order fired, they clicked and didn’t give up easily. In three games, Shadab now has two fifties and has scored 128 runs at a healthy average of 32, he also has an innings to be played. He batted well in Ireland, where he recorded his highest Test score of 55, which was also his maiden Test fifty.
Pakistan gained a healthy lead int he first innings and the job now was to pick wickets. Shadab meant business, he trapped Mark Stoneman leg before to scalp his first wicket of the game and then dismissed Stokes for his second. One can expect him to pick more when play resumes on Day 4.
With age being on his side, one can only expect Shadab to get better. As of now, he looks promising and has shown enough signs of developing into an impactful all-rounder. Will he evolve? Will Shadab develop into an all-rounder Pakistan have been in search for? Only time will unveil the mystery, but the chances of Shadab doing so are huge.