Shaheen’s cameo proved turning point of the final, says Rizwan

Published March 20, 2023
<p>Muhammad Rizwan walks back to the pavilion after his dismissal during the ICC men’s Twenty20 World Cup 2022 semi-final cricket match between New Zealand and Pakistan at the Sydney Cricket Ground in Sydney on Nov 9, 2022. — AFP</p>

Muhammad Rizwan walks back to the pavilion after his dismissal during the ICC men’s Twenty20 World Cup 2022 semi-final cricket match between New Zealand and Pakistan at the Sydney Cricket Ground in Sydney on Nov 9, 2022. — AFP

<p>Lahore Qalandars captain Shaheen Shah Afridi holding the PSL 8 trophy after his team won the tournament. — Twitter/<a rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank" class="link--external" href="">@thePSLt20</a></p>

Lahore Qalandars captain Shaheen Shah Afridi holding the PSL 8 trophy after his team won the tournament. — Twitter/@thePSLt20

LAHORE: Both Shaheen Shah Afridi and Mohammad Rizwan hea­ped praise on each other following the nerve-racking final of the HBL Pakistan Super League here at the Gaddafi Stadium on Saturday night.

“Rizwan is a good human being, having a different personality and the way he is improving is remarkable. Scoring 500-plus runs in back-to-back PSL editions plus amassing 1,000 runs in international contests in a calendar year is not easy for a cricketer but he is doing it,” Lahore Qalandars’ captain Shaheen, who led from the front with a title-winning all-round performance in the decider, said in the post-final press conference.

On the other hand, Multan Sultans’ skipper Rizwan whose team could not grab the PSL-8 title after losing the final by just one run, reckoned Shaheen’s batting was the key moment in the thrill-filled decider.

“For me, the turning point of the final was Shaheen’s aggressive batting, and not my catch [held by David Wiese]. We had taken control over the final but Shaheen took the momentum away from us,” the 30-year-old Rizwan said referring to the left-hander’s rapid-fire 15-ball 44 that helped Qalandars reach the 200 mark in the end.

Commenting on his cameo featuring five sixes and two fours in the final, Shaheen said his decision to come in to bat was a quick call made with a plan.

“I was sitting wearing only one pad. Suddenly [after the fall of the fifth wicket at 112], I decided to go myself as Khushdil Shah was bowling [at that time]. I had a plan to lift the run rate for my team to post a respectable total; and in case if fail, David Wiese and Rashid Khan have the ability to hit hard in the final few overs,” the 22-year-old captain said.

According to Shaheen, Qala­ndars’ head coach Aaqib Javed had endorsed his choice of batting up the order, saying the coach always trusted his decision.

On his bowling in the final, the winning skipper said though he took four wickets (for 51 runs), the last over of the innings bowled by pacer Zaman Khan was crucial as Sultans required 13 runs for victory.

Shaheen said he accepted the mistakes he had made in his first two costly overs and advised the bowlers to cover the loss while “I will try my best to do well in my remaining two overs”.

The left-arm paceman later took four wickets, a premium effort which eventually prevented Sultans from finishing the game and earned him the man-of-the-match award.

Talking about his captaincy at Qalandars, Shaheen said it was handed to him in the presence of senior players.

“I was appointed Qalandars’ captain after working as their vice-captain. I was handed the leadership when a number of senior players including Mohammad Hafeez were in the team,” he said.

However, Shaheen added, he accepted the offer despite believing that a senior player could better handle the job.

He rated PSL as the world’s best league.

“The bowlers took wickets and batters scored runs and that was the beauty of the PSL which also attracted good crowds who enjoyed cricket. This makes it the [world’s] best league,” Shaheen reckoned.

Meanwhile, Rizwan said his team had recovered from Shaheen’s innings but some fine bowling in the last over by Zaman should also be given due credit.

The skipper said the barest of Qalandars’ victory margin showed the competitiveness of the finalist teams.

“Both Qalandars and Sultans played well but at the same time, both made mistakes too. The one-run difference [in the end] shows it was very close and competitive cricket,” Rizwan said.

“Qalandars might have done [relatively] some more effort for their team besides showing more passion for the game.”

He said Sultans played good cricket but added “losing the final twice to Qalandars was disappointing”.

Rizwan defended his decision for not giving the fourth over to leg-spinner Usama Mir who had taken three wickets, including crucial ones of Fakhar Zaman and Sam Billings, for 24 runs in his first three overs.

“The decision was taken according to the situation prevailing in the ground,” he said.


Meanwhile, Shaheen was appo­inted as captain of the Team of PSL 8 by an independent panel headed by Haroon Rashid — chai­r­man of the PSL 8 technical committee — and that also included commentators Bazid Khan, Daren Ganga, Nick Knight and Sana Mir as members.

Since the concept of the Team of HBL PSL was introduced in 2019, this is the fourth successive year Shaheen has made it to the exclusive side.

The side also includes Multan Sultans’ Emerging Category players Abbas Afridi and Ihsanullah, who won the Emerging and Player of PSL 8 awards, respectively.

Like the Multan duo, it is also the first time for Mohammad Haris and Azam Khan to be selected for the team of the tournament.

Overall, the team includes five players from Multan Sultans, two players each from Lahore Qalandars and Peshawar Zalmi, and one player each from Islamabad United and Karachi Kings.

Rizwan and Babar Azam have been selected as openers, with Haris, Rilee Rossouw, Azam and Kieron Pollard forming a formidable middle order.

Imad Wasim, who has been picked in the Team of PSL for the first time, comes in as an all-rounder, followed by leg-spinner Rashid Khan and three fast bowlers in Shaheen, Ihsanullah and Abbas.

This is the fourth time in five years Babar has been selected as an opener though the first time was with his Pakistan team partner Rizwan, who himself has been chosen in the team of the tournament for the third successive time.

Team of PSL 8 (in batting order):

Mohammad Rizwan (Multan Sultans), Babar Azam (Peshawar Zalmi), Mohammad Haris (Peshawar Zalmi), Rilee Rossouw (Multan Sultans), Azam Khan (Islamabad United), Kieron Pollard (Multan Sultans), Imad Wasim (Karachi Kings), Shaheen Shah Afridi (captain, Lahore Qalandars), Rashid Khan (Lahore Qalandars), Abbas Afridi (Multan Sultans), Ihsanullah (Multan Sultans), Saim Ayub (12th man, Peshawar Zalmi)

Published in Dawn, March 20th, 2023



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