NOTTINGHAM: Pakistan cricket’s pace ace and captain of PSL’s most successful franchise Lahore Qalandars Shaheen Afridi has said that he is excited to join Notts Outlaws for the T20 Blast competition and is ready to perform well for the team.
The left-arm fast bowler — who became part of Outlaws for this season — was speaking exclusively to Geo News at Trent Bridge Cricket Stadium, home of Nottinghamshire county cricket club.
Shaheen told Geo News that he has played in the T20 Blast before and really enjoyed his stint when he last played in the tournament.
“Really excited to drop well with my new team. I’ve some good friends in the squad, some really good international players. So as a player, I hope to play good cricket and perform well so the fans can enjoy it too.”
Outlaws have a strong squad for their campaign in the Blast which includes players like Alex Hales, Ben Duckett, Colin Munro, Olly Stone and Samit Patel.
Shaheen hopes that with that sort of international players in the squad, Outlaws can potentially end up winning the tournament.
“Yes, we can be the winners. Outlaws have a history of playing good exciting cricket. The beauty of Trent Bridge stadium is that is a high-scoring ground, so enjoy playing cricket here.”
Speaking about his last performance in the T20 Blast three seasons ago when he picked up four wickets in four consecutive deliveries retreating Hampshire Hawks, Shaheen said he always tries to give his best no matter whichever team he’s playing for and will try to repeat that performance for Outlaws, too, this season.
“The results are in Allah’s hands. All I can try is to continue with my good performance. Whether it’s bowling batting or fielding I give my best to the team and fulfil the expectations fans have of me”.
World Cup preparations
Since there’s not much cricket happening in Pakistan for the next few months, Shaheen is set to spend most of his time playing shorter forms of cricket in England.
For the T20 Blast, he will be with Outlaws and then in August for The Hundred, Shaheen will join the Welsh Fire with fellow Pakistani and Lahore Qalandars pacer Harris Rauf.
Shaheen said the benefit of the experience of playing such cricket is that he can share the knowledge gained with other players too when he will return home.
“We play with and against such players who perform at the international level too. So it becomes easier to plan the way I should be bowling to them later on.”
“So it’s good for the personal experience but also will be helpful to enhance my performance which will indeed be very beneficial later on for the world cup preparations and to build a good momentum before that.”
Shaheen vs Zaman
Outlaws will be up against Derbyshire Falcons for their tournament opener on Friday at Trent Bridge. Interestingly pace attack of both teams will be led by Shaheen for the Outlaws and rookie Zaman Khan for Derbyshire.
They both play for Lahore Qalandars in the PSL where Shaheen is the captain and Zaman made his PSL debut under his leadership.
Taking about Zaman, Shaheen heaped praises on the youngster’s ability to bowl under pressure and termed him the best-emerging player, a player he had never seen performing for the team so well before.
“Zaman Khan is a player who can win the team matches and get become the man of the match awards. And not only in odd games but keep on doing it at crucial times of the matches. That lad has done it for us at least five or six times so far.”
“Especially, bowling at the death and the last over which is not easy at all in T20 games anywhere. He’s an immensely talented player and the future of Pakistan cricket so I’m very hopeful that he will continue doing so for his country”.
Lahore Qalandars PDP
Shaheen also lauded the Lahore Qalandars players’ development program.
Lahore Qalandars are the champions of the last two seasons of the Pakistan Super League, on both occasions Shaheen was the captain.
But their journey into the esteemed competition wasn’t smooth for the first six years, on occasion not even qualifying for the knockout stage and often finding themselves at the bottom of the table.
But despite all the criticism from pundits and fans, Lahore Qalandars management stuck with their vision of developing and promoting more and more local talent.
In Shaheen’s opinion, Lahore Qalanadars’ management deserves full credit for their successes in the last two seasons of the PSL mainly thanks to their players’ development program.
“We had some great names in the Lahore Qalandars squad but unless our own local players perform well only then the team can win.”
“Recently, we had seven players in our squad who came through the franchise’s players development program. Although some of them didn’t get the chance to perform it’s not like that their cricket is finished they will definitely be ready and available in the future.
The ones who got a chance availed it and performed really well”, said Shaheen.