‘I am still fit and young’: Shaheen Afridi quashes talks about dip in pace


The conversation surrounding Shaheen Afridi’s pace has been under the microscope ever since his return to the cricket field following an injury last year. The discussion intensified during Pakistan’s December-January Test tour of Australia when the speedometer readings apparently indicated a drop in his bowling speed, hovering around the 130-135 kph mark. Contrary to these observations, Pakistan’s T20I captain confidently countered the claims, asserting that he is capable of regularly delivering balls at speeds of 140-145 kph. Afridi also emphasized the strategic nuances of T20 cricket, where delivering every ball at maximum velocity is neither practical nor necessary.

At present, Afridi is captaining the Lahore Qalandars in the current season of the Pakistan Super League (PSL), though the team has experienced a rocky start, losing their initial two matches. However, Afridi’s personal performance and his pace have been separate points of focus. In addressing queries about any potential decline in his speed, the young pacer reiterated his physical fitness and readiness. “I know I can still bowl 140 or 145, but you have to do everything when the time is right. In T20 cricket, no bowler bowls 140-plus as their average ball. In T20 cricket, you only need to bowl three or four balls at express pace,” Afridi stated in an interview with ESPNCricinfo.

Amid the fast-paced competition, T20 cricket demands a blend of speed and skill, where a variety of slower balls and bowling variations come into play. Holding onto his conviction, Afridi articulated his belief that there has never been a downturn in his pace. Confident in his abilities, he declared, “I’m still fit and young, just 23.”

The ongoing PSL season has not been without its challenges, having felt the impact of numerous overseas players withdrawing after participating in other T20 leagues like SA20 and ILT20. Despite the criticism over the absence of international stars, Afridi stands firm on the importance of appreciating and respecting local talent. He underscored the significant presence and influence Pakistani players hold when they play abroad, often regarded as marquee players in international leagues. Afridi firmly believes that if local players are given the respect and recognition they deserve within their home league, the PSL’s prominence will continue to rise within the cricketing world.

Players may have their reasons for not joining the PSL; however, Afridi is of the opinion that the value and respect due to domestic cricketers should not be overshadowed by the focus on international participation. He stresses that local talent has immense value and ought to be treated with the dignity it merits.

The Lahore Qalandars, under Afridi’s leadership, are navigating through the early turbulence of the season with the hope of reversing their fortunes. While the team’s overall performance falls under Afridi’s captaincy, his individual commitment to maintaining a formidable pace is clear. Amid debates over his speed, Afridi’s conviction in his athletic prowess remains unshaken.

As the PSL continues, the spotlight will invariably fall on the local players who are now carrying the torch for Pakistani cricket. It will be their performance that decides the fate of their teams and the league, while reinforcing the essential role domestic players hold in the grand tapestry of world cricket. With Shaheen Afridi at the forefront, the message is clear: acknowledge and celebrate the homegrown stars who shape the future of Pakistan’s cricket legacy.

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