By Sohail Ali
LAHORE, Jul 25 (APP):Fast bowler Shaheen Shah Afridi is all-set for his first tour of the Caribbean and is eager to utilise the full range of deliveries in his repertoire when Pakistan take on the West Indies in the five-T20I series, which commences on 27 July.
Shaheen has been one of the most successful left-arm quicks in the format since his debut on 3 April 2018 against the West Indies at Karachi’s National Stadium and has emerged into a frontline bowler for the national side.
The 21-year-old has snared 31 wickets at 26.22 in 28 matches and is the second best left-arm pacer (in terms of wickets) behind West Indies’ Sheldon Cottrell (33 wickets at 21.69).
Considering the fast-paced nature of T20 cricket, Shaheen believes that slower deliveries play a crucial role in the success of a fast bowler and they will be an integral part of his plans throughout the five T20Is, which will mark the national side’s first assignment in the format in the Caribbean since 2017 when they won the four-match series 3-1.
Shaheen , on the sidelines of the national side’s training session, said on Sunday : “Considering the true nature of the pitches in T20Is, the pacers have to rely on variations to unsettle batsmen and get their wickets. One can even consider delivering two to three slower balls in an over.
“I do not shy away from using the slower balls. If the situation of the match demands and after reading a batsman, I will even bowl a slower ball in the first over. Understanding the conditions early on plays a vital role in deciding when and how one has to take the pace off the ball. As a bowler, one does understand how the conditions are – whether there is any swing in the air – after a couple of deliveries.
“T20 is fast-paced cricket and it keeps you on your toes. One needs to be quick in decision-making and correct in deciding when to bowl the slower ball.”
West Indies are the current world champions and the only side to win two T20 World Cups. Considering the fact that the hosts will be fielding a side that has players with vast experience gathered from various T20 franchise tournaments around the globe, Shaheen says that having strong plans and bowling in partnerships will be important.
“West Indies are considered to be a specialist T20 side. Their players play T20 cricket around the world and are familiar with most of the bowlers in the circuit. It can get a little tough to bowl at them, but having solid plans will help us.
“Bowling in partnerships is crucial. When the ball starts to reverse in the death overs that is where Hasan Ali and Haris Rauf come in. We have discussions with each other on when we need to take the pace off the ball or bowl quick.”
The five-match T20I series will be played across two venues – Kensington Oval in Barbados and Providence Stadium in Guyana – before Pakistan and West Indies lock horns in two Tests.
Schedule of the T20I series:
27 Jul – 1st T20I, Kensington Oval, Barbados
28 Jul – 2nd T20I, Kensington Oval, Barbados
31 Jul – 3rd T20I, Providence Stadium, Guyana
1 Aug – 4th T20I, Providence Stadium, Guyana
3 Aug – 5th T20I, Providence Stadium, Guyana.