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Asia Cup 2022

How do Pakistan replace the irreplaceable in Shaheen Afridi at the Asia Cup?

Yas Rana by Yas Rana
@Yas_Wisden 3 minute read

Pakistan’s Asia Cup hopes were dealt a heavy blow after it was announced that star left-arm quick Shaheen Afridi has been ruled out of the competition with a knee injury.

Shaheen, 22, set the tone for Pakistan’s memorable 10-wicket win over India at last year’s T20 World Cup, removing both openers Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul in an incisive new-ball spell and is widely regarded as one of the best powerplay bowlers in the T20 game.

Pakistan’s attack leader is now facing a race to regain fitness ahead of this year’s T20 World Cup in Australia. As well as the Asia Cup, Shaheen has also been ruled out of Pakistan’s seven-match T20I series against England.


So, how do Pakistan go about replacing Shaheen?

You’d expect that Hasan Ali and Haris Rauf, the other two quicks to play every game in Pakistan’s semi-final run at last year’s T20 World Cup, will retain their places in the side.

The other three fast bowling options in the Pakistan squad are Naseem Shah, Mohammad Wasim and Shahnawaz Dahani. Naseem is the best known of the trio but at 19, is still yet to make his T20I debut. After a breakout Pakistan Super League earlier this year – where he finished with 14 wickets and an economy rate of 8.01 runs per over – it may be tempting for Pakistan to blood him in ahead of the T20 World Cup later in the year. While he didn’t always open the bowling for Quetta Gladiators in the 2022 PSL, it was a role he impressed in on occasion. For instance, in one PSL game this year he dismissed both Hazratullah Zazai and Liam Livingstone – lbw and bowled respectively – in the second over of the Peshawar Zalmi innings on his way to a four-wicket haul in the latter stages of the group phase.

Dahani is another extremely exciting young quick who Pakistan could turn to. The 24-year-old touched 93mph in his second T20I against West Indies last year and has been among the top five wicket-takers in each of the last two PSLs – he finished top of the pile in 2021. He would not, however, be much of a like-for-like replacement for Shaheen. In 2022, he has bowled just 11 powerplay overs in T20 cricket, taking two wickets at over 50 and conceding his runs at an economy rate of 9.64.

Mohammad Wasim, himself only 20, is the third option within the current Pakistan squad to replace Shaheen. Of the three, he has played the most T20I cricket for Pakistan and boasts a superb record in the format, taking 17 wickets at 15.88. However, like Dahani, he is not that regular a new ball bowler – in the 2022 PSL, his 10 powerplay overs yielded a solitary wicket and cost more than 10 runs per over. That said, it is a role that he has occupied for Pakistan. In 2021, he bowled 12.2 overs in the powerplay for Pakistan, taking eight wickets at 11.50.

Given his amount of recent action for Pakistan in comparison to his two main competitors for Shaheen’s spot, he is perhaps the most likely candidate to come into the side.

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