Pakistan’s Messi or Argentina’s Yasir Shah?
Nature is beautiful isn’t it? Just like animal species bear unbelievable resemblance to each other, humans can too.
Yasir Shah is a 29 year old Pakistan leg spin bowler who made his International debut for Pakistan in 2014 against Australia. And boy did he burst on the scene in insane fashion! Many argue with the fact that his debut should have come way earlier. Shah played his first ever International game 9 years after kicking off his first class career. What was even more sad was that a bowler as talented as Yasir Shah wasnt even considered until the bowling action ban of off spinner Saeed Ajmal. It was Ajmal’s ban that made the Pakistani selectors make a gamble of handing Yasir Shah his debut series against a side of Australia’s stature. Quite, extraordinarily, Yasir Shah destroyed the Australians in the three Test series, picking up a total of 16 wickets. After the series, Aussie legend Shane Warne said:
“This kid Yasir Shah looks special. He has got plenty of energy and alot of lethal variations. He is a future star”.
Lionel Andres Messi on the other hand, needs the least amount of introduction among all sports personalities of the world. Who does not know Lionel Messi? Messi is without a doubt the best player in World football today, and arguably also the greatest player to have ever graced the game of football. In such a young career, individually, Messi has won 4 FIFA Ballon d’Or awards and three Europeam Golden Shoe Awards. With his club FC Barcelona, he has won a whooping 7 La Liga titles, 2 Copa Del Rey Championships, 6 Supercopas de Espana, 2 UEFA Super Cups, 3 UEFA Champions Leagues and 2 FIFA Club World Cups.
The facial resemblance between Lionel Messi of Argentina and Yasir Shah of Pakistan is quite mind boggling. The resemblance is so severe that an immigration officer at the Dubai airport asked Yasir Shah what he was doing with Lionel Messi’s photograph on his passport! Joke, but true!
Now, the two stars do look quite alike, when it comes to facial features. Both are sportsmen too. Both play for giant nations. Do they have any other similarities too? Well, the answer is a big fat “YES”.
Similar starts to professional lives
Both Messi and Yasir Shah experienced similar starts to their careers for their respective teams. Yasir Shah took world cricket by storm after totally dimantling the Australians in his debut Test series, and becoming the fastest Pakistani bowler to reach the 60 wickets mark in Test cricket. Lionel Messi burst on the scene as an astonishing youngster, who immediately smarked memories of the Maradonas and the Peles in the minds of all football fans. Just like Yasir Shah’s introduction in cricket sparked combinations with legends like Shane Warne, Lionel Messi’s incredible start too invoked comparisons with the game’s all time greats.
Nobody believed in them
Both Yasir Shah and Lionel Messi did not experience the easiest of buildups to their respective careers.
Although Messi was the son of a factory owner in Argentina, that did not guarantee the young Barcelona man an easy journey to the top. Although Messi always prioritized football before most things in life while growing up, his physical deficiencies deeply hampered his progress throughout the way. Apart from being exrtremely physically weak, Messi was diagnosed with growth hormone deficiency at the tender age of 11. At that time local Argentinian club River Plate were impressed by Messi, and showed interest in him, but they were not willing to to meet the treatment costs of Messi. Messi’s treatments required 900 US dollars a month back in those days. But, Messi legitamized the phrase “Impossible is nothing”. Talk about silencing all the doubters and the non believers, Messi not only fulfilled his dream of making it as a professional footballer, but also cemented his name among the games all time greats. If he does go on to become the greatest player of all time, that would be the most incredible fairy tale story in the history of all sports!
Yasir Shah was born to a village family in Swabi, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. He is the cousin of fellow Pakistan international fast bowler Junaid Khan, and also Pakistani born Australian International cricketer, Fawad Ahmed. Shah had a thing for cricket ever since his childhood, but with the level of competition in the surrounding areas, he faced alot of struggles growing up to be a cricketer. The Shah of Spin finally made his first class debut in February 2002, and what a first class career he had! In 89 games, Yasir Shah bagged a whooping 354 wickets, with an average of 25 runs per wicket. But what haunted him his entire first class career was something very disturbing. Yasir had to wait 9 years to get a callup from the national side, which is shocking and surprising to say the least, considering his impact in the domestic version.
There are a number of reasons believed to be responsible for Shah’s struggle to get into the Pakistan national side. Since 2008, Pakistan had the services of a world class spin bowler in Saeed Ajmal. Getting the nod over Ajmal was never going to be the easiest of tasks for even the best spinners of the world. Another reason was Yasir first few disappointing games in the green shirt. In 2011, in the tour of Zimbabwe Yasir probed costly against the hosts in the ODI and the two T20 games. He was almost completely forgotten after that, and had to wait for 3 more years, before he finally got a chance in the series against Australia.
Both Yasir Shah and Lionel Messi are world class athletes. Their facial resemblance is surely a sweet source of entertainment for both cricket and football fans. I am sure, that at some point in their careers, the two international superstars will stand shoulder to shoulder for what is best known as a real “Selfie”.