FULL NAME: Shaheen Shah Afridi
BORN: April, 6, 2000, KHYBER AGENCY
CURRENT AGE: 20 years
NATIONALITY: Landi Kotal, PAKISTAN
ROLE: Left-arm Fast Bowler, Left-handed Batsman
A baby face perched on a two-metre body, Shaheen Afridi’s story is trademark Pakistani. An 18-year old already comfortable in the green shirt of the national side, he’s been on the radar of the national selectors for almost three years. In a more intimate circle, he was destined for great achievements well before his teenage years, with an international cricketer for an elder brother.
Riaz Afridi made his solitary Test performance for Pakistan in 2004, when Shaheen was just four years old. He pushed Shaheen to hard-ball cricket following years of the younger brother enjoying success in Pakistan’s informal tape-ball circuit. In 2015, FATA selected him after an U-16 talent hunt programme. His pace, physique and fitness won him an U-16 tour of Australia, and since then, he’s been progressing through the youth squads.
He burst into the nation’s consciousness with 8 for 39 on Quaid-e-Azam Trophy debut, the best-ever figures by a debutant in the competition. Later, he was picked for the PSL, where figures of five wickets for four runs in a group game for Lahore Qalandars won him a place in the T20I squad against the West Indies.
He became the first cricketer born after the turn of the millennium to represent Pakistan when he played the third T20I against the West Indies. He was later handed an ODI debut in the Asia Cup, where he replaced Mohammad Amir in the side. In December, he became the 35th player to make his Test debut for Pakistan under the age of 19.
There is more to him than just his story, however compelling that may be in its own right. He stands at an imposing 6ft 6in, though a sweet, child-like smile and a harmless demeanour perhaps takes some of the aura away. He has the intelligence to take advantage of his height to extract bounce on the docile pitches of the UAE, while a mean yorker has proved especially difficult for batsmen to deal with. Most impressively, he can hit a good length time and again, and appears to have the temperament for a long career at this level.
There have been flattering comparisons already, with Pakistan boasting a rich tradition of left-arm fast bowling. In truth, he really is nothing like Wasim Akram or Mohammad Amir, both of whom were shorter bowlers who relied more on swing than bounce. Perhaps the most accurate contemporary comparison is to Mitchell Starc, something Mickey Arthur pointed out during the PSL earlier this year. He has made an impressive start to international cricket, but for Shaheen, many sense this is indeed, just the start.
Shaheen Afridi holds the record for being the youngest player to take a 5-wicket haul in a World Cup at the age of 19. He achieved this in the 2019 ICC World Cup against Bangladesh cricket team with figures of 6/35. Also, he has the best bowling figures of 8/39 by a Pakistani bowler in his First-Class debut.
Shaheen Afridi has achieved a lot more than his colleagues and that too, before hitting 20 years of age.
Shaheen started playing cricket at the age of 15 when he joined FATA in Pakistan on the insistence of his brother, Riaz Afridi. His performance earned him a spot in the U16 Pakistan team to play against Australia in November 2015 where he took 4 wickets in 3 matches.
He played for Pakistan in U19 Asia Cup even before making his debut for Khan Research Laboratories in 2017. Later on, he made his List A debut for Baluchistan.
Shaheen made his One Day International debut on 21 September 2018 against Afghanistan at Abu Dhabi. He took 2 wickets in the match as Pakistan defeated Afghanistan by 3 wickets. So far, he has two 4-wicket and one 5-wicket haul in One Day Internationals and his total wickets count is 40 in 19 matches.
Shaheen Afridi made his debut in Test cricket on 3 December 2018 against New Zealand at Abu Dhabi. Shaheen took 3 wickets in the match and New Zealand cricket team won the match by 123 runs. So far he has taken 25 wickets in 7 matches with one 5-wicket haul in the format.
The T20I debut for Shaheen Afridi came on 3 April 2018 against West Indies at Karachi. He had a poor start to his career but ended up being on the victorious side at the end of the match. He has 14 wickets in 10 matches with his best bowling figures being 3/20.
Shaheen Afridi plays for Dhaka Gladiators in the Bangladesh Premier League. He also plays for Lahore Qalandars in Pakistan Super League.
Shaheen Afridi is the youngest brother of Riaz Afridi who debuted for Pakistan in 2004. He belongs to the Afridi tribe of Pashtuns and is the cousin of Yasir Afridi.