Shadab Khan, Pakistan cricket’s 19-year-old wonder boy

Published: January 30, 2018
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As Shadab walked off with an ever-glowing smile on his face and Man of the Match award after the third T20I against New Zealand, I couldn’t help but pray that the devils of cricket keep their distance from this young man. PHOTO: TWIITER/THEREALPCB

After making a half-cooked meal, I put on the highlights of the 2017 Champions Trophy final to help distract myself and get through with dinner that seemed eatable at best.

“One minute down! The next minute up!” exclaimed Nasir Hussain on commentary as I swallowed another bite.

I paused and played the moment when Virat Kohli was trumped, again. That particular instance in the match was electrifying, and in the centre of this synergy of the Pakistan cricket team was an 19-year-old Shadab Khan. He had managed to catch a ball that was harder than the catch attempt made by his senior Azhar Ali, who sadly dropped the ball.

Who is Shadab? That would have been the question had I mentioned his name a year ago. Today, the name “Shadab” rings many bells in our minds. Are you talking of Shadab the batsman who comes to our rescue after the top order collapses, the leg spinner who gets us crucial wickets, or maybe the quick-on-his-feet fielder who saves us runs in the field?

Shadab’s skill on the field deserves much appreciation. He is a rare specimen in our part of the world. Pakistanis love to bat or bowl but rarely would you see youngsters enjoying themselves while fielding. It is exhilarating to see Shadab’s athleticism in the field, and it is evident that he has the Pakistani cricket gene in him – something to be proud of.

Moreover, one would think that a teenager like him would have his heart in his throat as he stepped out onto the field. However, you are utterly surprised as he casually walks up and takes his guard at one of the toughest positions in the 30-yard circle, with sheer confidence. It’s the exact place where he caught the catch of the masterpiece called Kohli. This position belongs to him and he undeniably owns it.

Shadab is a world-class fielder but that’s only a fraction of what he actually has to offer. He came in the team as a specialist spinner and has surprised us all with his talent. From dot balls to picking big wickets, Shadab has been a treat to watch. He throws in those leg spinners and mixes it with the googly so beautifully that even the best in the business have fallen to his trap. You already know who I am thinking of at this stage but if you don’t, here is a hint:

“Pad pe lagi hai pehlay, pad pe lagi hai

(It touched the pad first)

The story of Shadab doesn’t end with bowling. On a pitch where our top order seems to struggle, Shadab comes and bats on it without a hint of trouble. He can defend, pick singles and even pull out the big shots, when necessary. Whoever called him a handy lower order batsman was clearly understating it.

Within a glimpse of time, Shadab seems to have become the nucleus of the team. While it is true that there are other young promising players in our current squad, but this man takes the cake when it comes to showing absolute potential. He is indeed a complete package with a bright future ahead of him.

The recently concluded T20I series against New Zealand is a testament to the importance of having Shadab in the lineup. Specifically, in the last T20 when Martin Guptill was ready to launch one heck of a counter attack on Pakistan, but Shadab stepped in and teased the man in form with wide, outside off-deliveries that came very close to the wide line but yet stayed inside it.

Pakistan won by 18 runs in the final T20I and although the whole team played their heart out, Shadab had sucked the momentum out of the New Zealand innings in the ninth and 13th over. He had bowled giving away just one and three runs respectively, along with two wickets. Those two overs had sealed Pakistan’s well-deserved number one spot in the ICC T20I rankings.

As Shadab walked off with an ever-glowing smile on his face and the Man of the Match award in his hand after the third T20I against New Zealand, I couldn’t help but pray that the devils of cricket keep their distance from this young man. He is destined for success and I wish him all the best for his future and his career!

Hamza Junaid

Hamza Junaid

The author is an avid cricket follower and plays for a team called Gladiators based in New York. He tweets as @hamza_junaid1 (twitter.com/hamza_junaid1)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Israr Khan

    good piece hamza, shadab khan kid from mianwali … mianwali the home of ik and lately misbah so must be a known place …
    shadab with his ideal player austrailian captain steve smith (who could not hold bat when first arrived on scence .. see 2010 Pak vs Aus test series in england now top batsman) bats like him as well but bowls way way way better so i think he is for sure our future captain, he is calm customer and a fantastic no 4 or 5 batsman.
    now lets talk about his journey .. i to be honest first noticed him just before 2016 england tour and i wrote about him on a blog asking inzi to take notice which he did, that tour of england not the senior team the A side gave us 5-6 players but we only see 4 making it to senior side today…
    fakhar zaman, hasan ali, shadab khan and babar azam…
    the two which i think should make it to senior side NOW are saud shakeel and jahid ali fantastic top order batsmen and if they can bat well in English conditions in June then
    they can bat anywhere at any ground on what soever pitch… kindly check the link below go straight to score board
    http://www.cricbuzz.com/live-cricket-scorecard/16697/paka-vs-sla-2nd-unofficial-test-sri-lanka-a-and-pakistan-a-in-england-2016
    some might argue since then saud shakeel has not really performed well or jahid ali has been not in great touch then my answer to them is simple the players like sami aslam and shan masood has been scoring runs domestically but cannot handle pressure …. since then inzi has not sent the A side to places he should be sending A side to aus and nz like almost every other year send them ask them to play games and try to take responsibility also the management team must be on merit and decisions must be on merit… recently a team u23 was sent to play tournament Pakistan made it to final here hussain talat did v well
    http://www.cricbuzz.com/live-cricket-scorecard/18259/banu23-vs-paku23-9th-match-group-b-asian-cricket-council-emerging-teams-cup-2017
    coming way low in the batting order he smashed a 50 and then took 2 wkts helped Pakistan tie the game and eventually make it to the final by beating afghanistan in semi
    http://www.cricbuzz.com/live-cricket-scorecard/18264/paku23-vs-afg-2nd-semi-final-asian-cricket-council-emerging-teams-cup-2017
    as u can see he did well again with bat and then with ball 2 wkts well in the final the jealous ppl did not give him over and we lost this is what i mean when i said anwar ali is treated not fairly i trust sarfaraz and would like to see anwar in the side specailly overseas he is ur top new ball bowler and can smash quick runs down the order exactly what we needRecommend

  • Waqas

    Right now he is the best fielder of the team. Yes you are right he should be protected form devils of cricket we are no position to repeat another episode of Aamir,Asif, Salman Butt and Sharjeel Khan. Imagine what a team we would have if Shajeel & Fakhar opens the batting and Aamir & Asif opens the bowling.Recommend

  • Hamza Junaid

    Thank You Israr. Those are some great insights, I was not aware about those players. I will have a look at the scoreboards when I get free. I hope they are noticed by PSL franchises at least so that they get a chance to play in front of a well televised tournament and get noticed. It seems PSL is the fastest path to get into the national side because whoever performs in PSL gets a lot of public support. Hopefully those players you mentioned will get noticed by Inzamam.Recommend

  • Hamza Junaid

    True Waqas we have seen way too much talent being drained down in Pakistan due to various reasons. I highly doubt Fakhar would have ever got a chance if Sharjeel was still in the side (considering Pakistan does not put too many attacking players at once in the lineup) but yes I would love to see those opening pairs in batting and bowling.Recommend

  • Israr Khan

    :) inzi picked them for A tour I wish he pick more players the rule was no one should be 30 or over so youth and in-noticed players get a chance to deliver goods for the side… saud shakeel and jahid wont make it to psl they are more test cricketers and will get open up in few years time
    saud shakeel batting (just to get an idea) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y07EAY3yjeg
    psl watch Hussain talat for united Nawaz for quetta … u know what keep writing and i’ll comment on ur blog :)Recommend

  • Hamza Junaid

    Seems like you follow cricket with a lot of passion. Thanks for sharing the knowledge on the upcoming talent. I hope Inzi gives them a fair share of chances. I am already looking forward to PSL3. Hoping to see another rising star…
    And Thanks man always appreciate your comments. I hope you enjoy the blogs.Recommend