A fortnight before the blockbuster 2022 T20 World Cup match between India and Pakistan, PCB chairman Ramiz Raja had confirmed that Shaheen Afridi was all set to return from his knee injury and play against the Men in Blue in Melbourne. Shaheen had played a pivotal role for Pakistan last October when they had beaten India by 10 wickets as he had dismissed KL Rahul and Rohit Sharma in a space of just seven deliveries with the new ball. However on Sunday, Shaheen did not look at his best and former Pakistan pacer Aaqib Javed issued a stern warning to Babar Azam over playing the tall fast bowler later on in the tournament.
Shaheen had picked up a knee injury during the Sri Lanka Test series in August and was subsequently ruled out of the entire Asia Cup and the home series against England. He later joined the Pakistan squad during their tri-series in New Zealand earlier this week but did not play a match. However, he did bowl in the practice games for Pakistan before the World Cup.
On Sunday, in the match against India, he did not pick any wicket with the new ball, but conceded only eight runs in two overs. However, what bothered Javed was Shaheen’s speed. The World Cup-winning pacer claimed that the bowler did not look at his best during his run-up.
“Nehi, 100 per cent nazar nehi aaye. Woh jo pehla ball bhaga hai na, I was like, ‘Oh…what’s happening?’. Because shuru main uska woh pace, woh arm speed…but idhr dekhiye, uska pace bhi kaam aa rahi thi. Bhagne main bhi conscious nazar aaye,” he said on Geo News.
He was eventually smashed for 26 runs in his last two overs as Virat Kohli’s brilliant 82* guided India to a four-wicket win.
Javed feels that if Shaheen remains conscious about hurting his knee again that it would a major blunder from Babar Azam to continue playing him in the World Cup.
“Dekhna yeh hain ki agar woh bhag nehi sakte then it would be the biggest blunder to let Shaheen play,” he said.
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