Teenager Shaheen Shah Afridi was once again in the limelight as Pakistan beat New Zealand by six wickets in the second T20 at Dubai on Friday to capture their 11th consecutive series win in the format.
The left-armed pacers turned in a man-of-the-match display with figures of 3-20 from his four overs and picked up the key wicket of New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson.
The 18-year-old has found himself thrust into the spotlight in the series by skipper Sarfraz Ahmed. He was handed the final over to bowl in the first T20 and helped Pakistan secure a two-run win before answering his skipper’s call by picking up the wicket of a well-set Williamson on Friday.
“Senior players are pushing me and supporting him by giving me chances to bowl in pressure situations. They are treating me like any other bowler in the team. Yes, there is some pressure but all the players have encouraged me during those times,” Afridi stated after the game.
“I am a team player and am ready to bowl whenever required. I bowl a lot of slower balls and yorkers so perhaps that is why the captain prefers me to bowl in the death,” he added.
It has been a meteoric rise for the youngster, who was playing in the ICC U19 World Cup with Pakistan at the start of the year. Since then, he has made significant inroads with a promising debut in the Pakistan Super League (PSL) before earning his maiden international call-up.
Afridi thanked Pakistan bowling coach Azhar Mahmood for helping him develop his skills as he looked back on an excellent year.
“I played in the U19 World Cup, I also did well on my first-class debut. After that, I made it to the Pakistan team and have received plenty of support. I would like to thank Azhar Mahmood who has worked very hard with me since then,” he stated.
The youngster also credited Lahore Qalandars bowling consultant and former Pakistan international Aaqib Javed for his development along with his elder brother Riaz Afridi who had played one Test for the country in 2004.
“I would like to thank Aaqib Javed for giving me the platform to shine with Lahore Qalandars in the Pakistan Super League. With my brother Riaz, I still talk to him every day. We discuss how I bowled on that day and how I could have done better,” Afridi said.
“I have started playing cricket looking at my brother. I took up fast bowling after watching him. I still talk to him before matches on how to bowl on the day.”
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