Friday Jan 21, 2022
KARACHI: Pakistan's bowling sensation Shaheen Shah Afridi, who is leading the Lahore Qalandars as a captain in this season of the Pakistan Super League (PSL), has promised that his team will be seen in "a different mood" this time.
The PSL fever is turning high day by day as the seventh edition of the most anticipated sports event of the year draws near. The tournament is slated to kick off on January 27 in Karachi.
Speaking to the media during an online pre-tournament interaction, Shaheen said that he is confident that Qalandars will not let fans down in the upcoming edition of PSL.
"We have practised well in the camp before coming to Karachi and have tried to overcome our mistakes. I assure you that you'll find Qalandars a totally different team this time. We have played some practice matches and got in mind of how we have to go in the PSL matches," Shaheen said.
"I am happy to have the best bowling attack in all PSL teams since the top performers of T20 cricket, including Haris Rauf and Rashid Khan, are a part of Lahore Qalandars," he added.
The 21-year-old bowler was named captain by Qalandars earlier, replacing the lesser known Sohail Akhtar, who led the team in 2020 and 2021 editions.
Under Sohail's leadership, Lahore played the first-ever final of PSL, in 2020, where they went down against Karachi Kings. In 2021, after a brilliant start, Lahore lost the momentum and lost consecutive matches to eliminate from the race to the play-offs.
Before that, the Qalandars had finished at the bottom in each of four seasons.
However, the new captain is confident of a changed fortune this time.
When asked what difference he aims to bring in Qalandars, Shaheen said that he will try to impress others with his performance and keep everyone gelled together as a team.
"My goal is to contribute with my bowling and as a captain, to set an example for the players. There's no pressure of captaincy and I don't think that the leadership will affect my individual performance," he said.
Shaheen revealed that Shahid Afridi had advised him against accepting the captaincy role but he opted against his advice.
"He [Afridi] thought that the pressure of captaincy will affect my performance as bowler but I believe that it will not put any impact, instead it will motivate me to do even better and that's why I chose to accept the offer."
The young pacer said that he's looking forward to Lahore Qalandars' big match in PSL against Karachi Kings which will also be a contest between his bowling and Babar Azam's batting.
Though, Shaheen made it clear that there won't be any mercy even when his favourite player will be playing as his opponent in the field.
"Babar is my favourite player but when he's opponent, he's an opponent and there won't be any leniency. Karachi vs Lahore is an important match and widely followed by fans, I am sure they'll enjoy a good game," he said.
"There's no doubt about Babar's talent. He's the top batter and you need to have a magical delivery to get his wicket and that's what I will do against him — bowl my best," Shaheen aimed.
Replying to a question, the pacer said that he doesn't have becoming Pakistan's captain at this stage in his mind. Instead, he is happy with the way Babar is leading the squad.
"The way Babar is leading the side, I don't even need to think about being captain, I pray that he continues to lead us for next 10-15 years. However, if I am ever needed for the role, it will be an honor for me," he said.
"We recently met Prime Minister Imran Khan and got a big support from him," Shaheen said.
He said that PM Khan told him that fast bowlers make good captains, so let's see how it goes with me," he concluded.