Coming back from injury in the build-up to the T20 World Cup,Shaheen Shah Afridi continues to go from strength to strength, and looms as a pivotal figure in Pakistan’s trophy hopes.
The world-class left-armer was at his brilliant best in spite of a docile Sydney Cricket Ground surface, taking the wicket of Finn Allen up front in the first over, before returning to outfox Kane Williamson with a cunning slower ball.
🗣 "The most important thing is we believe in each other."
Pakistan captain Babar Azam gives insight into his partnership with Mohammad Rizwan and their approach to the game 💬
— ICC (@ICC) November 9, 2022
He finished with 2/24 from his allotment, moving to ten wickets for the tournament, joining Shadab Khan as the most prolific in Pakistan’s campaign in Australia.
Of course, Shaheen’s significance in Sydney was not lost on skipper Babar Azam, who lauded the quick and the early inroads he made.”He set the tone,” Babar began.
“After the injury, day by day he’s improving because you see him playing for the team and performing after the injury.”
It’s been a slow road for Shaheen to return, who suffered cruciate damage to his knee in a Test match against Sri Lanka in July.
Shaheen is on record saying he struggled to walk at first due to the injury, and the option not to race him back has proved vital, with the 22-year-old looking at close to full fitness.
“He had a little bit of time (to recover),” Babar added.
“He has really been using our experience and now everyone knows he’s the best bowler in Pakistan and in the world, so we know he’s bowling and he’s doing fine out there.”
Pakistan were better in all three facets against the Kiwis, punching their ticket to Melbourne on Sunday, the first T20 World Cup final appearance since they won the tournament in 2009.
A journey with the up-and-down parallels of the Cricket World Cup campaign their forefathers had in 1992, Babar does not play down the significance of their 50/50 shot of a tournament win.
“It means a lot. To be honest, we did not start well, but after the South Africa match we had hope, and after that we grabbed the opportunity, then we are playing our best cricket.”
“Alhamdulillah, we will play well in the final.”