Time Wednesday Jan 26 2022
Sports Desk

PSL 2022: Will Shaheen Afridi be a game changer for Lahore Qalandars?

Sports Desk
Pakistan fast bowler Shaheen Shah Afridi. — Twitter
Pakistan fast bowler Shaheen Shah Afridi. — Twitter

Qalandars won five of their first six games last season. They needed to win just one more game to qualify for the playoff, but lost their final four, finishing with the second-worst net run rate in the league. They are the only team in the league that has not won the title in the last six years.

The greatest finish for Qalandars came in the fifth season when they got to the final but were defeated by Karachi Kings.

Have things improved for Lahore Qalandars?

With Rashid Khan returning as their big foreign acquisition and Shaheen Shah Afridi given a new role as captain, the Qalandars have managed to keep their core intact. They will be worried about Mohammad Hafeez's form, as he has barely managed to somehow get going since scoring in the 2020 World Cup. 

Yorkshire hitter Harry Brook has also joined the Qalandars to bolster the middle order, although he will miss the first three games, giving Durham fast bowler Mathew Potts an opportunity to contribute, as per a report published by ESPNCricinfo.

Meanwhile, Otago allrounder Dean Foxcroft will be trying to revive his career after missing two consecutive domestic seasons in New Zealand due to COVID-enforced border restrictions. Foxcroft's most recent competitive match took place in March 2020.

Player to keep an eye on

Undoubtedly, Shaheen Shah Afridi is the biggest game-changer for Lahore Qalandars and might up the scale for them. the fast-bowler was named the ICC Men's Cricketer of the Year for 2021 after winning the prestigious Sir Garfield Sobers Trophy. 

Last year, he got 78 wickets in 36 internationals for an average of 22.20. His biggest achievements came in the T20 World Cup, where he took seven wickets in six games, along with those of Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul, and Virat Kohli in Pakistan's group-stage encounter against India, guiding them to the semi-finals. 

This PSL season, he'll wear a new hat when he leads Qalandars, captaining a team at the senior level for the first time and that too at a very young age.

Stats of Interest

Since the start of 2021, Rashid has bagged 85 wickets in the 57 T20s he has played, 24 wickets more than anyone else. Rashid's recent surge at taking wickets came after picking up only 121 wickets in 101 T20s he played across 2019 and 2020, where he struck every 19.1 balls compared to once in 15.2 balls since 2021. However, his economy in both periods remains similar - 6.62 (2019-2020) and 6.6 (since 2021).

Captain: Shaheen Shah Afridi 

Coach: Aaqib Javed 

Full squad: Shaheen Shah Afridi (capt), Fakhar Zaman, Rashid Khan, Haris Rauf, Mohammad Hafeez, David Wiese, Abdullah Shafique, Ben Dunk, Mathew Potts, Kamran Ghulam, Dean Foxcroft, Sohail Akhtar, Zeeshan Ashraf, Ahmed Danyal, Zaman Khan, Maaz Khan, Samit Patel, Syed Faridoun, Imran Randhawa, Akif Javed.