With 26 wickets in six first-class games, averaging less than 17, all eyes were on 16-year-old Naseem Shah who is gearing up to make his international Test debut against Australia later this month.
However, the youngster lost his mother on Monday, casting doubts on his availability for the series. GEO News reported that Shah has chosen to stay back with the team in Australia and not return home to Pakistan to attend the funeral as it is believed that he won't be able to make it on time.
The pacer consulted his family before conveying his decision to the board.
Shah was part of the Pakistan team playing Australia A in a three-day game in Perth, in what turned out to be a disastrous game for the host. Pakistan posted 428 after electing to bat, and in reply the Aussies could only manage a paltry 122, with Cameron Bancroft's resilient 155-ball 49 being the only saving grace.
Pakistan and Australian players sported black armbands in the game as a mark of respect to Shah's mother. The teenager was withdrawn after the news of his mother's demise was received but Pakistan chose not to replace him, leaving them a bowler short.
The game also saw Australian batsman Nic Maddinson pulling out of the match on mental health grounds.
Ahead of the tour, Pakistan coach and chief selector Misbah-ul-Haq expressed his excitement about Shah being in the mix.
"Everyone is excited to get him in the team and see how he bowls in Australia. It will help that he can bowl in good areas. He can bowl really well with the new and old ball. He is doing that in first-class already. We are looking forward to him putting the ball in the right areas at that pace, it could be a surprise packet," he was quoted as saying.
Shah's rise to the international stage has been a quick one. Having started with gully cricket, the youngster set the regional scene on fire with 32 wickets in eight matches, making space for himself in the national U-16 team. He also played for his country's U-19 team in the Asia Cup before making debut in first-class cricket.
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