Shaheen Afridi and Hasan Ali’s is a fledgling fast-bowling partnership, only five Test matches old right now. The combination of the tall left-arm Shaheen and the skiddy right-arm Hasan holds much promise for Pakistan and it is showing in recent performances.
The pair took 15 of 20 South Africa wickets in the Rawalpindi Test in February this year, setting up a 95-run win. Seven of those wickets were bowled. In Harare last week, they took 13 of 20 Zimbabwe wickets. Again, seven of those wickets were bowled.
Both pitches were anything but quick, and sending so many stumps cartwheeling in such conditions takes some doing. Once the older ball started reversing a bit in Harare, both pacers ripped through the opposition tail with swerving yorkers, Shaheen in the first innings and Hasan in the second. It is a special skill to have and has already drawn comparisons with former Pakistan greats, which brings more joy than pressure, according to Shaheen.
Two days before the second and final Test against Zimbabwe, Shaheen spoke about his developing bond with Hasan, and how the two helped each other out in the middle.
“I enjoy Test cricket a lot, session by session. I enjoy it even more bowling along with Hasan, it feels good to be bowling in tandem,” Shaheen said. “When I bowl badly, Hasan comes and motivates me and vice-versa. We coordinate with each other out there and then apply our learnings.”
One thing Shaheen may want to pick up from his partner is batting skills. While he has a Test batting average of only 4.68, Hasan’s is 15.64 and his frenetic hitting is a delight to fans. Even in Harare, Hasan slammed three fours and two sixes to make 30 and helped put on a useful 61 for the seventh wicket with centurion Fawad Alam. Shaheen acknowledged the importance of late runs from the bowlers.
“Batting is very crucial, scoring runs down the order can contribute towards a winning score, and our endeavour is to do the same and make the team win,” Shaheen said.
The second Test between Pakistan and Zimbabwe begins at 1:00 PM on Friday.