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Losing Shaheen Afridi before Asia Cup is a big setback for Pakistan: Saqlain


Pakistan head coach Saqlain Mushtaq on Monday said losing injured Shaheen Shah Afridi for the upcoming Asia Cup is a “big setback” but backed his bowling unit to deliver the goods in the continental tournament.

Saqlain backed Nassem Shah to perform in the Asia Cup after the right-arm pacer shone bright in the three-match ODI series against the Netherlands in Rotterdram. “Obviously, losing Shaheen is a big setback to us before the tournament and for the England series because he is someone who has proven himself at the top level and done well against the best batsmen,” Saqlain said. “It is never easy to replace a player like Shaheen because of his quality but the resources we have are good and we are backing them to deliver for us.

“Naseem, I see as a star in the making because of the control, aggression, attitude and execution he has displayed in his bowling. He has been very impressive for us.” Saqlain said Naseem, who is yet to make his T20 debut, had helped Pakistan win the last match by nine runs.

“He (Naseem) changed the course of the match and the other bowlers supported him well.

“His (Afridi’s) injury is unfortunate but we are hoping he recovers soon as we have important cricket coming up.” Pakistan selectors on Monday named young fast bowler Mohammad Hasnain as a replacement for Afridi for the Asia Cup to be held in the UAE.

Saqlain, a former Test off-spinner, said overall Pakistan had a compact bowling attack capable of doing well against all teams.

“We are covered in all bases and though the fast bowlers are not that experienced but they have plenty of confidence and spirit.” Asked about criticism over team selection issues, Saqlain said: “Performance is something which can happen or not happen but we look at the attitude, hard work in the nets, mental approach and a player’s work ethics before deciding to play him.”





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