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Monday June 24, 2024

‘Blend of youth and experience will come in handy against Afghans’

By Abdul Mohi Shah
March 24, 2023

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s newly-appointed captain Shadab Khan Thursday was beaming with confidence as he said that the national squad was truly a mixture of youth and experienced players that would come in handy during the three-match T20 series against Afghanistan starting today (Friday) at the Sharjah Stadium.

In an exclusive talk with ‘The News’, Shadab said that international matches against Afghanistan had never been easy in the recent past, despite that the best thing was that Pakistan emerged winners in every match.

“It is exciting to play such close matches as it always brings the best out of you. We have played almost four very close international white-ball matches against Afghanistan in recent times. The best thing, however, was that on all occasions we came out winners. There is no harm in playing close matches unless and until your team wins every time.”

He spoke highly of the blend of youth and experience he had at his disposal. “We have got a wonderful stuff with us. It is a great honour for me to lead a side having experience and talent. This is the highest you can go in your career. I am very excited about the upcoming three T20Is. It is going to be a well-fought series.”

He was full of praise for the Afghanistan team as the side has got some renowned international players capable of delivering in T20 cricket. “Afghanistan are a good side as they have some good T20 players at their disposal. But I am very confident with the players I have in my squad, we will start as favourites for the series. We have a brilliant mix of youth and experience, which makes us a well-balanced side that is mandatory to win a series against such opponents.”

The newly appointed skipper was eagerly looking forward to see the likes of Saim Ayub and Ihsanulllah unleashing their talent at the international level at the Sharjah Stadium’s track that could virtually be called a home ground for war-torn country’s team.

Shadab, who is leading the team for the first time in a full international series, said that he was highly impressed with Saim’s ability as a top-order batsman and the way he had shown his batting skills in the Pakistan Super League.

“He is an awesome batsman. The way he attacks the bowlers is something special. He has a special talent. Like Babar Azam, he also required support. When the fresh talent comes to the fore and you are sure it has all the ingredients to become a future asset, you must support him. We need to support Saim in his efforts to hone his skills further. Ihsanullah is also a brilliant guy having the required pace and all the quality stuff to become a future strike bowler. We need to support both of them for a better future ahead.”

Shadab was keenly looking forward to see return of Imad Wasim and Faheem Ashraf. “Both the players had a great PSL and on the back of that wonderful performances, they are in the national team now. Hopefully, their return to international cricket would fetch the best results for team as well as for their career. Mohammad Haris is another special talent that needs support so that he can be seen at his best in 18-month time when the World Cup will be staged. We need to raise these youngsters keeping an eye on the next T20 World Cup.”

Shadab added that he was enjoying full backing of Babar who has been rested for the series. “We are friends on and off the field and always there to support each other. He has told me that I am carrying a talented team capable of beating Afghanistan.”

On the bitter memories of previous matches against Afghanistan, Shadab was hopeful that no previous incident will be repeated. “I would take up this issue with Rashid Khan, who enjoys the best of relations with Pakistan players. Cricket is a gentleman’s game and it teaches us sportsman spirit.”