All eyes were on Naseem Shah when India started their chase against Pakistan on Sunday in their Asia Cup match. In T20 cricket, where one doesn’t have time to warm up, the 19-year-old debutant hit the straps from ball one.
Rohit Sharma, the captain of India, handled the first delivery with ease by hitting a single to the leg side. KL Rahul then started his strike.
Fast and furious, with the raw energy of an adolescent looking to bowl quickly, Naseem charged in. Rahul, who was returning from injury, relied on his knowledge to neutralise the threat but misread the delivery’s line.
Rahul simply dangled his bat at an angle that was neither vertical nor horizontal as Naseem threw a 142 kph snorter. The ball veered off course and struck the stumps. A first-ball duck for Rahul, Naseem took off, was pursued by his teammates, and was eventually caught by wicketkeeper Mohammad Rizwan. After being caught, Naseem was embraced by all of his teammates and given props for his first T20I wicket.
Virat Kohli entered the room with the Chase Master crown resting uncomfortably on his head. He was searching for his form and was eager for runs as he prepared to take on a muscular youngster who had already tasted blood.
When Naseem runs in and bowls a 144 kph inswinging delivery, Kohli shoulders his arms and the ball clears the stumps. Naseem accelerated. Have steely nerves? Kohli approaches with a sardonic smile.