Teenage leg-spinner 'pure gold': Jones | cricket.com.au

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Teenage leg-spinner 'pure gold': Jones

Highly-rated Pakistan spin sensation recalls how he was too star-struck to talk to the Australia skipper in an elevator

Former Test batsman Dean Jones believes Pakistan have unearthed a "special" talent in Shadab Khan, a teenage leg-spinner who idolises Australia captain Steve Smith.

The 18-year-old stormed into record books last week with a stunning debut against the West Indies, picking up seven wickets in his first eight overs of international cricket.

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In Pakistan's T20 series opener in Barbados on Wednesday, Shadab collected 3-7 from four overs to notch the most economical figures on international debut in the shortest format.

He showed it was no fluke in the second T20, taking 4-14 to win a second-straight player-of-the-match award.

While he grew up trying to emulate spin king Shane Warne, as a promising batsman and electric fieldsman as well, Shadab models his game more on current Australia skipper Smith, who began his international career as a specialist leggie.

But a chance first encounter in a hotel elevator with the world's best batsman in Dubai, where Australia's preparations for their Test tour of India overlapped with the PSL in February, didn't quite go to plan.

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"I didn't know what to talk to him as I was lost in his coolness," Shadab told ESPN of his fleeting lift ride with Smith.

"By the time I could realise, the lift ride was over and he walked away, and that's it.

"But I want him to recognise me one day."

Shadab earnt his maiden international call-up on the back of a strong campaign for Islamabad United in the Pakistan Super League earlier this year.

And Jones, who spent his second season as coach of Islamabad after leading them to the inaugural PSL title in 2016, recalled how he and Pakistan great Wasim Akram knew they'd witnessed a prodigious talent the first time they saw him bowl. 

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"The very first time (fellow Islamabad mentor) Wasim Akram and I saw Shadab in the nets, we looked at each other and said, 'This boy is pure gold'," Jones told PakPassion.

"He is an interesting player to coach and I have said this before as well, that for an 18-year-old-kid he has the head of a 30-year-old on him.

"He has pretty much hit the ground running and yes, he will get whacked a few times in his career but Pakistan have something special there."

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Shadab's maiden PSL campaign yielded nine wickets at less than 20, with an impressive economy rate of 6.61, and his variations troubled a number of international stars.

His wrong'un in particular proved a threat, with the likes of Kevin Pietersen and Babar Azam falling victim to it, while he also picked up the key scalps of Kumar Sangakkarra and Eoin Morgan during the competition.



His lower-order hitting was an additional bonus for Islamabad, notching a best of 42 from 24 balls against Lahore while he finished with a team-high strike-rate of 160.97. 


Jones also recounted how he urged Shadab to channel the likes of Australia wrist-spinners Warne and Stuart MacGill, and revealed a unique method that helped to alter his approach to the bowling crease.

"He did come in with a few technical difficulties with his action and run-up, and we helped him with it during the PSL," the 52-Test former batsman said.

"We spoke with him about, and gave examples of Shane Warne, whom he admires a lot. 

"We also mentioned the technique of Mushtaq Ahmed to him as well. Then we also brought up the name of Stuart MacGill to show him how all of these spinners got close to the crease."

"We had to get him to straighten his run-up a bit … to achieve this, we had to get him to train on special 'dance' steps to accustom himself to a straightened run-up. 

"These were dance steps marked on the carpet of his hotel room so that he could practice before going to sleep and within a week or so, he was all set with this revised run-up and ready to go. 

"He went from an Abdul Qadir type approach to the crease to a much straighter one now."