Pakistan speedster Shaheen Shah Afridi ran through the Indian top order when the two teams met last year in the league stage ICC T20 World Cup 2021 in Dubai. Almost a year later, both teams are scheduled to lock horns again, that too, at the same venue but unfortunately, Pakistan will not have their fearsome left-arm quick.
In a major blow to the Men in Green, Afridi on Saturday was ruled out due to an injury he picked up in the first Test against Sri Lanka. The 22-year-old will also miss the home series against England but would return to action in October and is expected to feature in the upcoming T20 World Cup in Australia later this year.
Afridi’s absence is indeed a huge setback for Pakistan when they begin their campaign at the Asia Cup 2022 against arch-rivals India. Meanwhile, former Pakistan pacer Waqar Younis said it’s a big relief for the Indian top-order that had surrendered to the left-arm quick last year.
Waqar took to Twitter on Saturday and wrote, “ Shaheen’s injury Big relief for the Indian top order batsmen. Sad we won’t be seeing him in #AsiaCup2022 Get fit soon Champ @iShaheenAfridi.”
Pakistan vice-captain Shadab Khan admitted that Afridi’s absence will be felt. However, the spinner wished for a speedy recovery for his teammate, hoping that the pacer regains fitness before the T20 World Cup in Australia.
“Shaheen’s our best bowler, so, of course, we’ll miss him. It’s unfortunate that he won’t be available for the Asia Cup. But we’re hopeful he will be available for future series and the World Cup. We’ll have to play ruthless cricket. Our team culture is such that we never relax against any team,” Shadab was quoted as saying.
For now, Pakistan have an enviable battery of pace bowlers even without Afridi, with the likes of Haris Rauf, Naseem Shah, Mohammad Wasim Jr, and Shahnawaz Dahani in the squad. The replacement is yet to be announced but PCB could well recall a proven performer in right-arm pacer Hasan Ali, who was a notable omission when Pakistan’s squad for the Asia Cup was announced.
(With Agency Inputs)