Barely two months after being noticed at the HBL PSL 2017, Shadab Khan made his international baptism with a man-of-the-match award against the ICC World T20 champions West Indies.
Then 18, Shadab returned with figures of 4-0-7-3 at Bridgetown and followed that up with four for 14 in his next shorter format match.
His confidence surprised the cricketing world. The unassuming lad from the small town of Kamar Mushani (meaning bank of a river) was as unknown as a village in the Mianwali District.
The district had produced two greats of Pakistan cricket – Imran Khan and Misbah-ul-Haq.
Shadab would play cricket and, as a pass time, jump in the nearby canal with his childhood pals. He would surprise the village inhabitants with his leg-breaks and confident batting. He knew how to swim in troubled waters.
Shadab made his initial strides long before his HBL PSL debut for Islamabad United in the second edition in 2017. A year before, he had played for Pakistan in the ICC U19 Cricket World Cup in Bangladesh, finishing as joint-highest wicket-taker for his team with 11.
A few months later, he made his first-class debut for Pakistan ‘A’ on the tour of England, taking five wickets and scoring a valuable 48 in team’s win over Sri Lanka “A” in an unofficial Test.
But, his name propped up when made a match-turning 132 and had figures of four 84 and five 82 for Pakistan ‘A’ against Zimbabwe in October that year, that paved his way into the HBL PSL.
“PSL grew my confidence,” said Shadab. “Since I had played for Pakistan ‘A’, I found PSL easy and it allowed me to learn more and more. You rub shoulders with international and senior players and that’s an invaluable experience.
“HBL PSL provides a good platform to young players and my advice to all the players will be to work hard and make use of this golden opportunity.”
He took nine wickets in HBL PSL 2 and instantly came on selectors’ radar.
“The tour to the West Indies was great and captain Misbah encouraged me,” Shadab recalls.
He also made his Test debut on that tour. He took nine wickets in Islamabad’s title win in 2018.
Although Shadab managed to get just four wickets in Pakistan’s ICC Champions Trophy triumph in 2017 but it was his confidence against India that made headlines. He instantly convinced skipper Sarfaraz Ahmed to take a review after he trapped Yuvraj Singh in front of the wicket.
“You grow in confidence by playing regularly,” said Shadab. “I was convinced that the ball had hit the pad first and then the bat, so I was pretty sure and Sarfaraz backed me in taking a review.”
England’s umpire Richard Kettleborough was unmoved, but on replay he had to change his decision, much to the amazement of the crowd and commentators.
Slowly and gradually, Shadab made an impact in the longer format as well, scoring three half centuries in as many Tests in the United Kingdom in 2018, one in a crunch situation against Ireland and two versus England.
Pakistan’s head coach Mickey Arthur believes Shadab can become a genuine all-rounder in future.
“His batting is going to get better and better, and he’s our best fielder. He’s in the game all the time and he’s just a lovely, lovely boy,” remarked Mickey last year.
“He has got everything to become a successful all-rounder.”
After being part of ICC Champions Trophy victory Shadab wants to win the World Cup for Pakistan.
“Its a dream to win the World Cup and I will do my best to contribute to team’s victory in England,” vowed Shadab, who has 47 ODI and 44 T20I wickets. His tally in five Tests is 12.
At times Shadab misses a jump in the canal as he can no more go to that place for the fear of too many people would gather to see him.
“I miss my friends, but I tell them that it’s like a movie. Once I achieve what I aim for then, this movie will finish.”Email This Post