‘Close to achieving glory’ - Shaheen confident of Pakistan’s success in T20 World Cup

Speedster Shaheen Afridi believes Pakistan will come good in the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2024 after missing out on success in the recent editions.

Shaheen Afridi believes that the Pakistan side has a good opportunity to win their second Men’s T20 World Cup title.

Speaking to the PCB Podcast, the left-arm speedster opined that Pakistan were close to success after recent near misses in the 2021 and 2022 edition.

“It’s not possible that you put in the hard yards, and you don’t get the results. Like Lahore Qalandars put in the hard work for six years [in PSL],” Shaheen said. “They did the player development program as well and despite finishing at the bottom in the early years, they won back-to-back tournaments recently.

“And the Pakistan team is in a similar process, we’re very close to achieving [T20] World Cup glory.”

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Shaheen recalled the previous two events, where Pakistan did well before faltering at the closing stages.

Shaheen was a central character in both the contests. In the 2021 Men’s T20 World Cup semi-final, he was taken to the cleaners by Matthew Wade in the 19th over as Australia emerged as the eventual winners.

In the final of 2022, he injured his knee while fielding and couldn’t complete his spell against England. His absence was felt as Pakistan were a bowler short and England managed to overcome a middle-over stutter to win their second title.

“You’re disheartened if you get so close and still lose the World Cup. Both events were painful. We were hurt after the first loss [2021] and in the second event, I couldn’t help the side because I was injured. I tried my best to come back [on the field] but I wasn’t allowed to do so.”

However, Shaheen added that this time, Pakistan are ready to overcome the disappointments of the previous events.

“Our efforts during the World Cup is to play in a united fashion. This isn’t a time for disagreements. Everyone should follow the same process in a united way to achieve a singular goal.”

Recalling newly appointed white-ball coach Gary Kirsten’s words, Shaheen said the focus was on playing as a team over individual performances.

“Gary [Kirsten] told us, don’t play for the name on the back of your jersey but for the badge in front of your shirt. And that stayed with me.”

When asked about Pakistan’s historic maiden T20 World Cup win against India in 2021, during which Shaheen played a crucial role with the wickets of India’s top-order batters, the left-arm pacer recalled that he had contacted Pakistan legend Shahid Afridi before the game for advice.

“I called up Lala (Shahid Afridi) as his performance has always been the best against India. He advised me not to take any pressure, and to give my best. To ensure that my presence is felt on the field, to give my best in all departments: bowling, batting or fielding.

“So we tried our best, and achieved success.”

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Recalling his three crucial scalps, namely of Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul and Virat Kohli, Shaheen said the breakthroughs turned the game in favour of Pakistan.

“If you pick the first three wickets against any side, you essentially break their back because the top three are very important to set the tone.

“It’s always my effort to attack more [with the new ball], and that’s what I tried because if you get the early wickets you make it easier for your bowlers because the openers cannot get set and make the most of later overs.”

After losing to Pakistan in 2021, India won their rematch in 2022 on the back of a brilliant 82* from Kohli. The two sides will meet again in the 2024 event on June 9 in New York.

ICC Men's T20 World Cup, 2024NewsShaheen Afridi 04/06/2000