LAHORE-Pakistan cricket team chief selector and head coach Misbah-ul-Haq has said that the England series will be a big opportunity for Naseem Shah and Shaheen Afridi to perform and excel.

Talking to the sports journalists during an online session held here on Monday, Misbah said: “This will be a huge opportunity for the young bowlers especially for Naseem Shah and Shaheen Afridi to perform and make names for themselves. Although England bowling has experience, yet the potential and quality that our bowlers have is no less than that of the opposition.

“I am confident that even our youngsters will deliver against England. In terms of potential, Shaheen, Naseem and Abbas have proved themselves in whatever cricket they have played so far and they have another big chance to prove themselves in these conditions and stamp their authority to show everyone that they belong at this level of cricket,” he added.

About pacer Naseem Shah, the head coach said that the youngster is a ‘complete bowler’, who can torment English side ahead of the first Test. “Before going to Australia, Waqar Younis and me just saw Naseem in the Gaddafi Stadium and at that time, he just looked like a complete bowler. We could see the potential, but now we have got the evidence at international level. He has a hat-trick and five-wicket haul.

“If you see his experience and his cricket, the sample size is too small, but he’s already fulfilling his potential. He is one who could win a Test match on his own, so we are looking forward for him to emerge as a very good bowler in this series,” he asserted.

Pakistan team management has named three spinners, including Yasir Shah, Shadab Khan and Kashif Bhatti, in their extended 20-member squad for the series, which will be reduced to 16 today (Tuesday). Misbah also hinted at playing with two spinners in the first Test starting from August 5 at Old Trafford. “Our side could look to exploit the traditional turn of the Old Trafford playing surface to make an early impression on the series.

“The Manchester wicket is just as it was for the England-West Indies match. It had spin from day one. We are keeping an eye and could consider playing two spinners, although there is time yet. We will take a final decision after analysing pitch and conditions further,” he said.

The chief selector believes that Pakistan cricket squad is well set for the three-match Test series and in good frame of mind after getting useful training and practice in English conditions. “The boys have already spent more than a month in England, first at New Road in Worcester and then at Derbyshire’s Incora County Ground prior to entering the Old Trafford bio-secure bubble over the weekend.

“Overall, I am contended and satisfied with the team’s preparations. We had to start from zero after being away from cricket for a period of three months due to Covid-19. The team is in good shape and we are hopeful about putting up a good show in the upcoming series,” he added.

“When you play after a long gap, there is bound to be some sort of nervousness but that is natural. As soon as the players step on the field, it will go away. The players are fresh and anxiously waiting for the series to begin,” said the head coach.

Asked how important Younis Khan’s help is for Misbah, he replied: “Younis Khan’s presence is important for me especially when you have such a big squad where there are 17 to 18 batsmen. Younis Khan has experience of playing so much cricket and he knows well how to prepare players mentally and also to look after their practice needs for Test matches. He has played so much international cricket and was mentally strong, and now he is transferring and sharing all that experience with the players. His presence will surely make the difference,” added Misbah.