KARACHI: While Yasir Shah continues to make headlines and win accolades for his mesmerising bowling at the Test level, many didn’t feel that he was destined for such a jaw-dropping start at this level.
His six-wicket haul in the first innings of the Lord’s Test has pushed his tally of wickets to 82. He has one more bowling innings left in his 13th Test and with the wear and tear and the double-pace nature of the pitch, he is set for another rich haul of wickets.
Yasir is closing on the record of the fastest-ever 100 wickets in Test cricket and some seven years ago one of his regional coaches didn’t think that there was anything outstanding in his bowling.
“Some seven, eight years ago I first saw him play for Abbottabad region and my first impression of him was that he was an average bowler. Back then, he didn’t use to turn the ball big, he was more inclined towards bowling faster deliveries” said Abdur Rehman, the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) coach and manager of Pakistan Super League franchise Peshawar Zalmi in an interview with The Express Tribune.
Rehman, who is one of a handful of qualified level-four coaches in Pakistan has played a leading role in the transformation of Peshawar and K-P region as a potent force in domestic cricket. He first coached Yasir during Pakistan A’s tour to the West Indies.
“I was the head coach on that tour, the pitches there were extremely slow and low and Yasir didn’t find it easy but the amazing thing was that he never let his shoulders droop. He was willing to experiment and learn the nuances of leg-spin bowling,” he recalled.
Breakthrough after Kaneria’s exit
Rehman monitored Yasir’s progress as he went through the grind of Pakistan’s domestic cricket scene on some unresponsive tracks. As Danish Kaneria faded away after the Essex fixing scandal, Yasir emerged as a possible replacement.
However the Swabi-born had to wait till late 2014 for his Test debut since the spinners’ spots in the longest format elevens were occupied by Saeed Ajmal and Abdur Rehman.
“I think the breakthrough for him came when Kaneria exited the scene and Ajmal was called for throwing,” said Rehman. “Pakistan needed a leg-spinner [then]. I would give him a lot of credit for the way he has bowled at the international level; his transformation is absolutely remarkable since he wasn’t an instant success in our domestic scene but he took to international cricket like a duck to water.”
Rehman also praised Yasir’s happy-go-lucky attitude and energy and said that his body language is one of the main reasons for his success.
“His strength is that his body language is incredibly strong. He is a team man and whenever he bowls, he bowls with a lot of vigour and determination. His energy is contagious and he has a very positive outlook towards life,” claimed Rehman.
Rehman thinks that Yasir’s accuracy as a leg-spinner has made him such a potent force since he is always making batsmen think about his variations which land on the right spot.
“His googly and flipper makes him very potent, these two deliveries are his real strength,” he said. “He keeps the batsmen guessing with his variations, and the speed with which he bowls also makes it tough for batsmen to attack him with a sense of liberty and freedom.
“I honestly feel that he’s bowling much better compared to domestic level and for that we really need to give him credit for adapting so quickly to the demands of the game at the highest level,” he concluded.
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