KARACHI: The Pakistan Cricket Board and its medical panel are facing many questions over whether first fast bowler Shaheen Shah Afridi has recovered enough from a knee injury to be fit for the current game T20 World Cup.
Former speed bowling greats Wasim Akram and former captain Waqar Younis Misbah-ul-Haq and Qalanders of Lahore Head coach Aaqib Javed all felt Shaheen looked short of fitness and training in Sunday’s game against India in Melbourne.
“It wasn’t the Shaheen we know. His pace wasn’t there and that begs the question, was he picked too early in the squad and is he ready now for such a big tournament?” Waqar asked.
Shaheen, who injured his knee in the first Test against Sri Lanka in Galle in mid-July, played in the crucial game against India on Sunday after playing just 6 overs in two warm-up games in Brisbane.
The former captain and head coach of Pakistan said that when the team was in New Zealand for the tri-series ahead of the World Cup, he spoke to Babar Azam, Saqlain Mushtaq and the team doctor on Shaheen’s physical condition.
“I asked them about his progress and reminded them that he had played in the net, but playing in a World Cup match was a totally different situation,” Waqar said.
“I asked them if his rehabilitation was going well so why not try him in the tri-series instead of waiting for the World Cup.”
Akram also agreed and said Shaheen looked short of practice against India.
“He didn’t seem to have that zip in his bowling alley. This is understandable because any fast bowler returning from a knee injury is first concerned about going hard. Let’s see how quickly he gets to full fitness for the game,” he said.
Aaqib, who worked closely with Shaheen at the Lahore Qalanders franchise, said there was no doubt Shaheen was not business as usual against India.
“He looked anxious and reluctant to really bend his back and that’s natural when you come back from a knee injury. I just wonder if he was fired early in competitive cricket,” said the former test bowler.
Shaheen, who has been Pakistan’s deadliest bowler for the past two years, bowled for 25 points in his last two games against India and conceded 19 points in their final to give India a chance to win the thrilling match on Sunday.
Pakistan’s longtime captain Misbah said he had always believed in only fielding a player who was 100% fit. “It’s never worth bowling with a bowler who lacks match practice,” he added.

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