Pakistani speedster Shaheen Shah Afridi broke through the Indian top tier when the two teams met last year at the 2021 ICC T20 World Cup Championship Stage in Dubai. Almost a year later, the two teams are due to face off again, that too, in the same venue, but sadly Pakistan won’t get their fearsome left arm soon.
In a blow to the Men in Green, Afridi was ruled out on Saturday with an injury 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 at the upcoming T20 World Cup in Australia later this year.
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Afridi’s absence is indeed a huge setback for Pakistan as they start their 2022 Asian Cup campaign against arch-rivals India. Meanwhile, former Pakistani pacer Waqar Younis said it was a big relief for the Indian top who went down on his left arm last year.
Waqar took to Twitter on Saturday and wrote, “Shaheen’s injury A big relief for India’s top batsmen. Sad we won’t see him in #AsiaCup2022 Get fit soon Champ @iShaheenAfridi.
Pakistani vice-captain Shadab Khan admitted that Afridi’s absence would be felt. However, the spinner wished his teammate a speedy recovery, hoping the pacer regains his fitness ahead of the T20 World Cup in Australia.
“Shaheen is our best bowler, so of course he will be missed. Too bad he’s not available for the Asian Cup. But we hope he will be available for future playoffs and the World Cup. We will have to play ruthless cricket. Our team culture is such that we never relax against any team,” Shadab said.
For now, Pakistan has an enviable battery of rhythm bowlers even without Afridi, with the likes of Haris Rauf, Naseem Shah, Mohammad Wasim Jr and Shahnawaz Dahani in the squad. The replacement has yet to be announced, but PCB may well remember a proven performer in right-arm pacemaker Hasan Ali, which was a notable omission when Pakistan’s Cup squad was announced. Asia.
(With contributions from the agency)
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