Pakistanis 428 (Azam 157, Shafiq 119, Yasir 53, Richardson 3-79) and 152 for 3 dec (Ahmed 79*, Masood 65) drew with Australia A 122 (Bancroft 49, Khan 5-32) and 91 for 2 (Khawaja 37)
The first sight of 16-year-old Naseem Shah on the tour was the highlight of the final day of the Pakistanis’ match against Australia A in Perth as the young quick produced eight overs that made everyone watching sit up and take notice.
Having been given compassionate leave on the second day in the tragic circumstance of his mother’s death, Shah showed immense fortitude to send down a succession of high-quality overs after Pakistan had declared midway through the day.
He had Marcus Harris dropped at slip on 12 – the second of two spills for Haris Sohail who had a poor match – but responded a short while later with a ripping delivery that climbed from a back of a length to take the shoulder of Harris’ bat through to stand-in keeper Abid Ali. It would have been a wonderful delivery for any fast bowler, but when you factor in his age and lack of experience, it was quite something.
One delivery, or one good day, does not make a tour but anyone asked has been ready to laud Shah’s talent, and the viral videos of his performances in domestic cricket in Pakistan fully justify it. After eight overs, and a few problems with the footmarks, he took his leave for the rest of the evening and was given an appreciative pat on the back by coach and chief selector Misbah-ul-Haq.
Away from the excitement generated by Shah, it was a story of potential indications about Australia’s batting line-up for the Gabba Test and mixed results for Pakistan’s batsmen in their second innings. Australia head coach Justin Langer was spotted having what appeared a positive conversation with the uncapped Will Pucovski on the boundary at dinner, but the batsman did not pad up in the second innings.
Joe Burns completed a miserable match when he edged behind off Shaheen Afridi. He has been incredibly unlucky not to play more Tests – he struck 180 against Sri Lanka in his most recent Test appearance – but the sense is time is now running out for him to add more to the tally. Harris, the incumbent Test opener alongside David Warner, will have known his fate while battling to 20 as the selectors met during the afternoon in Perth.
Usman Khawaja, hoping for a recall and another option to open the batting or for a middle-order slot, made his highest first-class score of the season – 37 not out – before the players shook hands.
Pakistan did not finish this match without questions and concerns. Captain Azhar Ali was trapped lbw by Michael Neser for the second time in the game to complete returns of 11 and 1, leaving him wanting a few runs against the Cricket Australia XI in the two-day game starting on Friday at the WACA. Sohail, who fell to a wild drive in the first innings, edged to gully when he was squared up by Neser and, on this small evidence, did not look an ideal No. 3 for the Gabba.
However, there were better returns for Shan Masood and Iftikhar Ahmed as they both eased to half-centuries in a third-wicket stand of 134, although they did have the chance to take advantage of Travis Head’s part-time offspin which went at six an over.
Wicketkeeper Mohammad Rizwan didn’t feature at all on the final day following the blows he took to the hand while batting yesterday.