'Rawalpindi Express' salutes new Pakistan pace ace as 16-year-old takes Test hat-trick

By John Skilbeck 10 February 2020 6
'Rawalpindi Express' salutes new Pakistan pace ace as 16-year-old takes Test hat-trick

Shoaib Akhtar and Viv Richards led the praise for "teen sensation" Naseem Shah after Pakistan's 16-year-old paceman became the youngest bowler to claim a Test hat-trick.

The precocious teenager achieved the feat on day three of the first Test against Bangladesh, putting Pakistan in a strong position to clinch a crushing victory.

Naseem reduced Bangladesh from 124-2 to 124-5 as he removed Najmul Hossain Shanto, Taijul Islam and Mahmudullah with successive deliveries, the first two of his victims falling to lbw decisions before the latter was caught at first slip.

The stunning burst arrived six days ahead of Naseem's 17th birthday and came less than two months since he became the youngest fast bowler to take a five-wicket haul in Tests.

Given the hat-trick came in Rawalpindi, it was only appropriate one of the city's favourite sons should offer his approval.

Shoaib became known as the 'Rawalpindi Express' during his career as Pakistan's premier quick.

And though his message was brief, it signalled how impressed he was by the youngster.

Shoaib wrote on Twitter: "Wow. Hat-trick by the teen sensation. #NaseemShah"

West Indies great Richards said Naseem's performance was "quality as its best", and said Pakistan Super League side the Quetta Gladiators had again shown a knack for uncovering "impeccable talents". Richards works for the team as a mentor.

Former Pakistan captain Rashid Latif said: "Congratulations to Naseem Shah for his remarkable achievement in such a short time. No other format can match a Test match."

Mushtaq Ahmed, Pakistan's former star leg-spinner, wrote on Twitter: "You are born to shine son. Keep your feet on ground and eyes on sky."

Bangladesh, meanwhile, appeared not to know what to make of the fuss, even after finishing the day six wickets down.

They will resume their second innings on Monday, needing 86 runs to make Pakistan bat again.

Bangladesh opener Tamim Iqbal said in an end-of-day news conference: "I thought we handled him quite well before that final over when he got the hat-trick.

"No doubt he is something that excites world cricket, but apart from that over I felt we handled him quite well."

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John Skilbeck