Time Sunday Jan 23 2022

PSL 7: Shahnawaz Dahani vows to win trophy again for Multan Sultans

Shahnawaz Dahani.– Screengrab via Geo News
Shahnawaz Dahani.– Screengrab via Geo News

  • I am still the same Dahani as far as my attitude is concerned, the player says.
  • Pacer says that he would surprise batters with his new strategy in PSL 7.
  • Dahani terms meeting India’s former captain MS Dhoni "a very special moment."

KARACHI: Shahnawaz Dahani was a lesser-known name exactly a year ago as he was struggling to impress selectors with his performances in the domestic team and had yet to appear on the country’s biggest cricketing stage — the Pakistan Super League (PSL).

Then came the dream moment as Dahani, wearing the Multan’s jersey, went to impress everyone with his performance and unmatched energy on-field during the PSL 6 season. Soon afterwards, he was picked by the selectors for Pakistan’s squad.

Since then, a lot has changed for Dahani. But the guy himself is unchanged. The boy from Larkana is still the same — smiling, humble, energetic, and jolly.

In an exclusive interview with Geo News, ahead of PSL 7, Dahani spoke about his cricket journey last year, his plans, and some interesting stories of new friends he made.

I am still the same Dahani

Dahani said that a lot of things have changed for him in the last year as now, he is a much-improved bowler and has learnt a lot after coming to Pakistan’s dressing room. But one thing that hasn’t changed for him is his humbleness.

“I am still the same Dahani as far as my attitude is concerned and I will always remain the same, the same as how I was when I came from the village, this is natural for me and this will always stay with me,” he added.

“I am thankful to all the fans and the people of Pakistan who’ve sent me their unconditional love and support since I appeared on mainstream cricket,” Dhani was quoted as saying.

He explained how he still spends time with his childhood friends and the experience makes him nostalgic.

“The memories of playing barefoot in village, jumping in the pool to find the ball, and collecting guava from farms, these are the memories that will always remain with me," he said. "Whenever I go back to the village, I spend time with my friends to recall the memories."

He further went on to say that this time his friends are coming to see him during the PSL.

Dahani said that being connected with PSL and the Pakistan team taught him a lot, especially in terms of improving his bowling skills.

Targets for PSL 7

Shahnawaz Dahani was declared the best bowler of PSL 6 when he took 20 wickets – the most by any bowler – in the season and helped Multan Sultans win the title for the first time.

This year, he vows to show the same class and said: “I am excited about the PSL 7, the closer it gets, the more my excitement is increasing.

"I can’t wait to be on the field again. I am preparing myself for the event and even with the in-room isolation, I’ve been training to keep myself fit,” he added.

The pacer said that he is aiming to become the leading bowler once again.

"Now, I am eyeing to take more than 25 wickets to break Hasan Ali’s record of taking most wickets in any PSL season," he enthused. "My main target is to help Multan Sultans win the trophy again."

The fast bowler added that he’s aware that batters have now become familiar with the conditions available in Pakistan and they know how to play so he has worked on that and would "surprise batters with his new strategy."

“There’s a strategy of how to bowl against locals and how to bowl against foreign batters, and I’ve worked on all,” Dahani said.

The fast bowler, who was praised for his celebration last year, said that while he would repeat the old signature style, there’s something new as well.

“You will see my new style of celebration when I take my first wicket in this edition of PSL and fans would enjoy that,” the pacer added.

Imran Tahir’s secret and Carlos Brathwaite 'bhai'

Dahani said that he became a very good friend of Carlos Brathwaite last year, and the West Indian cricketer is nothing short of a big brother for him.

“Even when PSL ended, Carlos stayed in touch with me and when I was in West Indies he called me and did look after me, he’s a gem of a person and I am surely going to miss him in Multan’s dressing room this season,” he said.

There are other cricketers as well, like Imran Tahir, Rile Rossouw, and Blessing Muzarabani who Dahani considers as his mentors.

“I spend memorable times with all of them, especially with Imran Tahir, who is also like a brother to me and also a jolly character like me,” he added.

Dahani recalled how Tahir surprised him by speaking to him fluently in the Sindhi language and then told him he belonged to a place near Dahani’s hometown.

“When he (Imran Tahir) came to me and started talking to me in Sindhi, I was shocked and surprised, then he told me that his roots are in Sukkur and later his family moved to Lahore and then shifted to South Africa,” the fast bowler said about the South African cricketer.

The foreign minister title

The 23-year-old bowler was selected as a travelling reserve by Pakistani selectors for ICC T20 World Cup in Dubai; the fast bowler didn’t play a match and didn’t bowl a single delivery but still won many hearts with his off-the-field activities.

His pictures of meeting players of different teams went viral on social media and fans started calling him the Pakistan Cricket team’s “foreign minister” during the World Cup.

While the fans were eager to see him in World Cup, Dahani said he was even happy to be in the dressing room.

“It was something big for me, to be in the dressing room of Pakistan team during a World Cup as it was a big moment for me and it allowed me to learn a lot of things and meet many players from all over the world,” he said.

“I also worked with the bowling consultant on nets which helped me in improving my skills,” he said.

Dahani said that he also enjoyed that foreign minister’s title given to him by a fan during the World Cup.

“I can’t thank my fans enough for all the love they showed; I will try not to let them down ever with any of my actions,” he promised.

Dahani said that what makes him feel more proud is that he has become a role model and a hope for cricketers in rural Sindh.

“I will tell you one incident; a few days back, a family came to meet me, and they brought a cake for me. There was a young kid with them, a few days back the same kid got selected for U-13 and he was chanting ‘main Shahnawaz dahani ban gayya’ after being picked,” he said.

He expressed his joy and said that this makes him feel so good that the child is a batter, yet he finds Shahnawaz Dahani – a bowler, as a role model. 

"This is a great feeling," he said.

Meeting with India’s former captain Dhoni

Dahani said that he was excited to meet some of the top players from around the world and termed meeting India’s former captain MS Dhoni a "very special moment".

“We used to watch Dhoni on TV or hear about him on the radio in the village. So, to see him standing in front of me was a big moment for me. At first, I was speechless, I didn’t know what to say but then I gathered confidence and talked to him,” Dahani recalled.

He said: “I asked him how he managed himself to be so fit at this stage, to which he replied that one has to do this all to survive in this sport."

"Then Dhoni asked me if I was a playing member upon which I informed him that I am among the reserves.”

Dahani further said that the former Indian captain Dhoni boosted his confidence by saying that he shouldn’t feel let down if he stays a reserve in the World Cup and instead feels that he is still among the few bests that’s why he was there and one day he would be bowling to the likes of Virat Kohli.