KARACHI: The rumour mill has been in overdrive ever since former Pakistan T20 captain Shahid Afridi issued a statement saying “I am a professional cricketer and whichever franchise needs me I am available for it. It is not that I am confined to Peshawar Zalmi only,” Afridi made his comment in an interview on Monday sending Pakistani fans and media in a frenzy.
Peshawar Zalmi owner, Javed Afridi, was quick to react to the rumours issuing a formal statement that, “Peshawar Zalmi is a professional cricket team, we respect each and every media corner. Any news or rumours which have got no authentication and are baseless and demotivate the fans, will definitely devalue the concerned journalist.”
Zalmi’s poster boy, Afridi had played an instrumental role in building a huge fan base for the franchise. Their stellar performance in the opening matches of the Pakistan Super League had placed the Zalmi’s as fan favourites in clinching the first title. However, the team lost out in the semi finals against the fierce Quetta Gladiators.
Team owner Javed Afridi has since then played a key role in the advancement of cricket and particularly domestic cricket in Pakistan. Shahid shares and appreciates the strides taken by Javed as he tweeted appreciating the various tournaments and camps in Peshawar that had been organized by Javed.
Javed’s most recent attempt to boost the sport’s popularity has taken the shape of two buses that will parade the streets of England during Pakistan’s tour. The buses, heavily decorated in Pakistani as well as Zalmi colours are aimed at being a morale booster for the national side as well as raising funds for KPK cricketers.
These rumours come at an important time for both the future of Peshawar Zalmi as well as Lala himself. The 36 year old has not been selected to represent Pakistan in the upcoming tour of England and is eyeing the Big Bash in Australia to continue playing T-20 cricket. Zalmi too have cricket on their calendar as Javed plans to conduct one or two matches between Zalmi and Quetta Gladiators.
It is without doubt that Shahid’s flamboyance and a diehard fan base has been pivotal in propelling the Zalmis to fame. Only time will tell whether the symbiotic relationship between the two Afridi’s will hold or if Shahid will not wear the yellow jersey in the second edition of the Pakistan Super League.