Pakistan's cricketing prodigy, Shaheen Shah Afridi, expressed optimism about showing more brilliance with the ball ahead of the high-voltage clash between India and Pakistan on Sunday.
In the last match between Pakistan and India, during the Asia Cup, the 23-year-old left-arm fast bowler wreaked havoc on the Indian top-order, claiming a remarkable 4-35, which included the prized wickets of star batter Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma. Unfortunately, the match ended in a washout, but cricket enthusiasts can look forward to another showdown between the two teams in Colombo on Sunday during the Super Four stage of the Asia Cup.
For cricket lovers, a clash between India and Pakistan is always a spectacle, and Shaheen Afridi understands the magnitude of the occasion. "Every match against India is special, and people watch this a lot. I used to wait for this match as a fan before I played under-16 cricket," he remarked.
When asked about his impressive performance against India, Shaheen modestly stated, "I can't say this has been my best spell so far. This is just the start, and there will be many more, so the best is yet to come."
Shaheen Afridi is at the forefront of one of the world's most formidable pace attacks, capable of swinging the ball both ways with precision. "If you play all three formats at such a young age for Pakistan and handle the new ball, people expect you to perform like that," he acknowledged.
In collaboration with fellow fast bowlers Naseem Shah and Haris Rauf, Shaheen has been instrumental in Pakistan's Asia Cup campaign, collectively amassing 23 wickets.
Shaheen revealed, "We know our roles with the new and old ball. Haris is quicker than us and impacts with his pace. Naseem and I try to get early breakthroughs. The communication is good between us, and that's our success."
Shaheen, who stands tall at 6 feet and 6 inches (1.98 meters), returned to cricket strongly after a severe knee injury last year. Reflecting on his recovery, he shared, "It's your match time that helps you improve. These Test matches against Sri Lanka recently made me improve as I bowled long spells and fielded all day. So that cleared all doubts about the knee injury."
Although bilateral cricket ties between India and Pakistan remain frozen due to political tensions, Shaheen is eager to perform well when Pakistan faces hosts India in the much-anticipated World Cup match in Ahmedabad on October 14.
Shaheen has sought advice from former Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi, who is also his father-in-law, before every significant match. He values Afridi's wisdom, saying, "I try to pick his brains before a big game and include it in my plans as he was a big-match player. He talks simply and says: 'Just play your cricket.'"
Drawing inspiration from legendary Pakistani left-arm fast bowler Wasim Akram, Shaheen maintains his focus on the field by avoiding cricket off it. "I don't go out much and stay in my room. Just stay indoors, make green tea... and talk about anything other than cricket," he revealed. "That keeps me relaxed."
With Shaheen Shah Afridi's promising words and exceptional talent, cricket fans can eagerly await his future performances, especially in the upcoming World Cup clash with India, where he aims to make a significant impact on the game.