Shaheen determined to play 'best PSL season' as Qalandars captain

On the international stage, many fast bowlers have taken the captaincy role and proved their worth and Shaheen aims to achieve the same stature during his career

Shaheen determined to play 'best PSL season' as Qalandars captain PHOTO: AFP

The newly appointed captain of Lahore Qalandars, Shaheen Afridi, has said that his team is gunning to play their “best PSL season” and the fans will see a “completely different team” in the upcoming edition of the HBL Pakistan Super League (PSL).

Left-arm pace sensation Shaheen sat down for an exclusive interview with Cricket Pakistan where he talked about the preparations, expectations from the players, his captaincy, and more.

“I am feeling extremely good and I am honoured to be leading a fantastic PSL franchise. For me, this is a new opportunity and I have the support of experienced players around me and I will be learning on the job as well,” said Shaheen.

Talking about being surrounded by experienced players further, Shaheen said that he is delighted to have the likes of Mohammad Hafeez and some foreign campaigners as well.

“I was the vice-captain last time around and I learned a lot but being the captain, I will look towards others for support to ensure that this franchise moves in the right direction under my leadership,” said Shaheen.

“I was not sure whether the franchise will take a chance on me as captain because I am still young but the management has backed me and I will do my best to repay the trust they have showed in me.”

When the rumours of Shaheen leading Lahore Qalandars surfaced, Shahid Afridi advised Shaheen to not take up the captaincy role to focus more on his bowling for an additional year. Speaking about that, Shaheen said:

“Yes, I did ask Lala and asked him about his verdict. He did advise me that I am perhaps too young for such a huge responsibility but I want to improve my international cricket by being able to handle more and more pressure. Although the captaincy has a lot of added pressure but I will try to handle things in a mature manner.”

On the international stage, many fast bowlers have taken the captaincy role and proved their worth and Shaheen aims to achieve the same stature during his career.

“Our PM Imran Khan was also a fast bowler and a captain, then there are examples of Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis, and recently Pat Cummins, Wahab Riaz, and Tim Southee are all doing a fantastic job. Since fast bowlers are fighters and lead from the front, captaincy is similar in that regard and I aim to improve as a cricketer with this new added responsibility.”

Speaking about captaining Pakistan national team one day, Shaheen said that there are a lot of other options who can provide the support for a long period.

“There are a number of players who can manage to lead Pakistan. However, I want to give my input and I want to help the team in any way possible.”

According to Shaheen, Lahore Qalandars aimed to address their middle-order collapse problems with their team selection for the seventh edition of PSL.

“Our top-order was performing but our middle-order was lacking the finishing abilities but now we have addressed the problem. Kamran Ghulam and Abdullah Shafique’s inclusion will help the team whether it is the top-order or the middle-order.”

Lahore Qalandars were unable to qualify for the next stage of the tournament as they finished fifth with 10 points. Speaking about this, following a final appearance in the edition before that, Shaheen explained:

“For us, we lost the momentum following the break and that cost us dearly. Once you lose the momentum, it is very difficult to get it back quickly. We suffered defeats but our Abu Dhabi matches were not one-sided; we will try to learn from the mistakes that were made.”

Remaining positive and optimistic about the HBL PSL 7, Shaheen also addressed his personal development and claimed he would love to be ranked alongside legendary Pakistan bowlers.

“I don’t want to beat them [likes of Waqar, Wasim] but I want to be ranked alongside them as one of the best Pakistan fast bowlers and that remains a goal for me.”