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Young Afridi thanks Dravid after dream five-wicket spell

Seventeen-year-old pacer says India’s legendary batsman’s words boosted him

18:48 March 10, 2018
Shaheen Afridi

Dubai: Seventeen-year-old left-arm pacer Shaheen Afridi of Lahore Qalandars, who destroyed table-toppers Multan Sultans with one of the most economical five-wicket spells in the history of Twenty20 on Friday, thanked India’s legendary batsman Rahul Dravid for boosting his morale.

During the last ICC Under-19 World Cup, Dravid who was coach of the India Under-19 team, was impressed by Afridi and had spoken highly about his skills.

Speaking to Gulf News after receiving the Man of the Match award for his dream spell of 3.4-1-4-5, Afridi said: “I am so happy that (Rahul) Dravid supported me, and I am grateful to him for having spoken to me many times. That was a big boost for a youngster from a senior player, and I would like to specially thank him on this occasion.”

In the ICC Under-19 World Cup, Shaheen produced a spell of six for 15 in 8.5 overs against Ireland. Afridi is already being talked about as Pakistan’s future Test star especially due to his ability to wreck batting line-ups.

Before going for the Under-19 World Cup he had produced a haul of eight for 39 in Pakistan’s first-class cricket. Afridi’s economy rate of 1.09 from Friday’s spell is the third best economical five-wicket spell after Sohail Tanvir and Rangana Herath (see box).

Afridi displays all the enthusiasm of a teenager, both on and off the field.

Though Lahore were playing against Multan, the best team in the PSL so far, Afridi, while on his way to stadium for the match on Friday, went up to his team manager Rana Sameen and told him that he would take five wickets in the match.

With his surname identical to Pakistan’s iconic player Shahid Afridi, many at the stadium remarked that the boy will surely go on to be the country’s future hero. After the spell, Shahid Afridi immediately tweeted: “Shabash Shaheen Shah Afridi ... champion in the making. Finally some smiles for @lahoreqalandars fans, really happy for them.”

Afridi had not clicked in the first three game of the PSL. Asked as to why it was so, he said: “This is the first time I have played Twenty20 cricket. That’s why I was not able to click in the earlier games.”

Incidentally, Shaheen hails from a cricket family. His elder brother Riaz Afridi represented Pakistan in one Test match against Sri Lanka but never got selected thereafter. Shaheen owes his success to his brother’s encouragement.

“I got a lot of tips from my elder brother. At the National Cricket Academy, (former Test star) Mudassar (Nazar) bhai too helped me. I also got help from Waqar (Younis) bhai and Wasim (Akram) bhai,” he noted.

Shaheen is hopeful of donning the Pakistan cap soon. “I hope I get a chance to play for Pakistan, especially in a Test match. I personally like Test cricket,” he remarked.