It is difficult to miss home games due to injury, he says. “
The Lahore Qalandars captain topped all players who made their HBL PSL debuts in 2018 in terms of wickets (70).
Lahore – At Lahore’s National Bank Cricket Arena at the beginning of April 2018, a lean young cricketer by the name of Shaheen Shah Afridi was presented with an international cap by Pakistan cricket icon Wasim Akram. In the past two months, during his first HBL Pakistan Super League season, he had displayed flashes of brilliance that propelled him to the national team. The highlight was when he defeated Multan Sultans in Dubai with a five-wicket haul, becoming one of only two bowlers that season to take five wickets in an innings.
Shaheen never looked back after that, going on to become Pakistan’s best all-format bowler and eventually the team’s offensive coordinator. Due to his versatility for Pakistan, he had taken the second-most wickets (204) in all three international forms, trailing only Pat Cummins of Australia (209) before the first Galle Test, when he damaged his right knee after landing awkwardly while attempting a dive at the boundary. He was so deadly among fast bowlers with at least a thousand overs of experience, his strike rate of 35.4 was the best in international cricket.
An ever-advancing career, though, came to an end on the fourth morning of the Test. When the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup took place in Australia last year, Shaheen was back in the Pakistani uniform. As he played more matches, his bowling form improved proportionally, but an accident while attempting the infamous Harry Brook catch in Melbourne’s championship game sent him back to rehab.
While the sight of Shaheen hobbling off the field broke the hearts of millions of Pakistanis, it marked the start of a struggle for a bowler who had done nothing but bowl since making his debut for Pakistan.
Shaheen, who has now verified all requirements for his return to competitive cricket, tells PCB Digital that “There were times when I wanted to give up” “I was working on only one muscle and it was not improving. I used to tell myself often during the therapy sessions, “This is enough, I can’t do this anymore.”
“But then I used to watch my bowling on YouTube and see how well I had done and that motivated me and I told myself ‘to push a little more’. It is frustrating for a fast bowler to miss cricket because of an injury.”
While there is never a good time to get injured, Shaheen’s injury occurred just as Pakistan was about to embark on their busiest home season in more than ten years, which included seven Twenty20 Internationals, three Test matches against England, and then two Tests and three One-Day Internationals against New Zealand. Shaheen sat out all 15 contests.
It is difficult to miss home games due to injury, he says. “I even missed the seven England T20Is before our Test home season. I preferred Test cricket more, therefore I was more upset about missing them. I wanted to take wickets against England since a bowler’s performance in Test cricket determines how good he is.
Was there ever a time during the 2022–23 domestic season when he wanted to adorn the Pakistan colours? “It shocked me while I was watching the [Multan Test] game and our tailenders couldn’t end the game. He laughs, “I wanted to hit a few sixes there and win the game for Pakistan. Also, I wanted to contribute with the ball when England was scoring a lot of runs.
Shaheen made sure to stay in touch with the bowlers. As the requirements of the Test format are completely different from those of the limited overs format, it is difficult to transition from white ball cricket to red ball cricket. I spoke with the boys on the phone. Naseem bowls really quickly, is mentally bright, and is aware of what needs to be done. I used to talk to Haris Rauf every day. I continued to communicate with our other Test bowlers as well.
The Lahore Qalandars captain topped all players who made their HBL PSL debuts in 2018 in terms of wickets (70). Wahab Riaz (103) and Hasan Ali (81) who have played 27 and 14 more matches than him are second and third, respectively, on the list of the highest wicket-takers in tournament history.
Shaheen could not have asked for a better stage to make his comeback than the HBL PSL, which will put his fitness and abilities to the ultimate test in a year when Pakistan will start their third ICC World Test Championship cycle, play 50-over Asia Cup, and compete in the World Cup.
One of the top leagues in the world, the HBL PSL puts you to the test as a bowler with its high calibre of cricket. I am excited to be returning here and am looking forward to all the difficulties it will present. I am doing fine, thanks to the Almighty. Both the bowling workload and the physical fitness requirements are checked off for me.
When they play Multan Sultans in the opening round of the tournament on February 13, Lahore Qalandars will stand up and defend their championship.
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