Lahore: Young speedster Naseem Shah, who made his debut in the recently-concluded Test series in Australia, is expected to return to Pakistan Under-19 ranks as they gear up for next year's Under-19 World Cup slated to be held in South Africa from January 17 to February 9.
"He (Shah) is my main weapon and I need him there at the World Cup," Ijaz Ahmed, head coach of the Pakistan Under-19 team, told ESPNcricinfo. "He now has a taste of international cricket and now, at the home (Test) series against Sri Lanka, we are mainly banking on spinners. Pakistan have (Mohammad) Abbas and Shaheen (Afridi) to lead the fast-bowling attack according to the conditions.
"I feel he (Shah) for now should only be used in conditions like in New Zealand, England, etc when needed. For now, we have a very important event coming up in South Africa and he is very handy for me and I will ask Misbah (ul-Haq, the chief coach and selector) to release him."
The right-arm pacer was named in the original Pakistan U-19 World Cup squad and it is understood he will be released to prepare and take part in the tournament.
Last month, he made his Test debut in Brisbane and sent back David Warner with a brute of a short ball when the Australian opener was batting on 154.
Said to be 16, Naseem became the youngest ever cricketer to make his Test debut on the Australian soil. As per records, Naseem, aged 16 years and 279 days, broke the record held by former Australia captain Ian Craig who had made his Test debut at the age of 17 against South Africa at the MCG in 1953. However, there were questions raised about his real age.
Pakistan, who have won the U-19 World Cup twice, will begin their tournament campaign against Scotland on January 20.