Pakistan pace spearhead Shaheen Shah Afridi has been advised a two-week rehabilitation after an awkward landing on his right knee while taking a catch during Sunday’s T20 World Cup 2022 final in Melbourne.
Although Shaheen came back to bowl after the impact, all he could manage to produce was just one delivery, that too far from his full effort. Subsequently, the left-armer was forced to abort his third over — the 15th of the innings — in the T20 World Cup final loss against England.
The lanky fast bowler was coming into the World Cup following what was an accelerated rehabilitation of his knee ligament injury that he picked up in July. Another scare during the final, according to medical experts, could mean his career may well be in danger at just 22 years of age.
According to a press release issued by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) today, Shaheen’s scan conducted on Monday — prior to the team’s departure for Pakistan — has confirmed there were “no signs of an injury” and the knee discomfort was likely “due to a forced knee flexion whilst landing”.
It stated that the scans were overviewed by PCB’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr Najeebullah Soomro, and Australian knee specialist, Dr Peter D’Alessandro.
“The left-arm fast bowler is feeling better and is in high spirits,” the cricket board said.
Shaheen, it went on, will undergo a “rehabilitation and conditioning programme”, designed to strengthen his knee at the National High-Performance Centre for a few days after his return to Pakistan.
The press release added that Shaheen’s return to international cricket will be subject to the successful completion of the rehabilitation programme and following go-ahead by the medical staff.
Meanwhile, experts fear Shaheen’s career might be in jeopardy and have criticised the PCB’s medical panel.
“If the injury doesn’t result in more injuries, it would take Shaheen three to four months to recover,” former Pakistan Cricket Board chief medical officer Dr Sohail Salim told Dawn after yesterday’s final.
“If the PCB’s medical board chooses to treat it through surgery, Shaheen will be out for six, seven months.”
Either way, according to Sohail, Shaheen is set to miss two crucial upcoming home Test series against England and New Zealand, which he said raised questions over the performance of the current medical panel of the PCB.
“An inquiry should be held to determine if the PCB medical panel went wrong in their approach to treat Shaheen’s injury,” said Sohail.
Former Pakistan fast bowler Sarfraz Nawaz, on the other hand, was hopeful Shaheen would be available again soon but lamented the PCB’s decision to include the pacer in the World Cup squad despite him not getting any prior match practice.
“You have put him directly in the high-profile World Cup without him playing any match since July,” Sarfraz told Dawn.
“His fitness could have been better judged if he played a game before the World Cup and he shouldn’t have been selected without proving it.”
Sarfraz believed the tri-series in New Zealand ahead of the T20 showpiece was a good chance to test Shaheen.
“The Pakistan team had played a tri-series in New Zealand before the World Cup, so Shaheen should have been tested in any of those matches,” he said.
Sarfraz criticised the PCB’s decision to keep Shaheen with the national squad in the series against the Netherlands and the T20 Asia Cup after his injury during Pakistan’s first Test against Sri Lanka
“.. the PCB wasted 40 days of rehab by making a decision of keeping Shaheen with the national team,” remarked the 73-year-old.
Sarfraz hoped the PCB’s medical panel would this time avoid rushing Shaheen back into the Pakistan squad.