Leading Pakistan trio of vice-captain Shadab Khan, wicket-keeper Mohammad Rizwan and pace spearhead Shaheen Shah Afridi said the visiting West Indies team will not be pushovers.
Interacting with the reporters ahead of Pakistan’s three-match One-day International series starting next week, they said that Pakistan were well-prepared for the task ahead even if the West Indies are due to arrive with a new-look side with Nicolas Pooran only recently named captain.
“The West Indies are a dangerous white-ball team and we will try to play the same cricket which we have played at home in the recent past,” said Shadab, who will be returning after missing Pakistan’s home series against Australia due to injury.
“We are well prepared for the series,” said the all-rounder, who returned to Pakistan recently following a stint with English county side.
Rizwan, who also featured for Sussex in the County Championship in the ongoing season, believed Pakistan would need to stay focused to get desired results against the
West Indies in a series which will be played as a part of the ICC ODI Super League.
He said the national team squad had gelled well in the last three years and the world is noticing Pakistan’s attitude of fighting till the end even if they were losing a match.
“Even a junior player knows that he has to meet the demands of the team,” said the Pakistan Test vice-captain, adding that his Sussex team-mate South Africa’s Colin Ingram praised the quality Pakistan were displaying.
For Shaheen, the West Indies series will test the pacers in both camps considering the hot weather conditions in Multan, which was named as the host venue last week.
“Usually a fast-bowler bowls five to six overs in the first spell and in Multan it may be reduced to four but it depends on the captain and what he requires from his bowlers,” said the left-armer.
Shadab’s county stint was his first outing after getting injured during the Pakistan Super League (PSL) earlier this year. The 23-year-old had registered match-winning performances as Islamabad United’s captain during the PSL with both bat and ball before being forced to sit out.
He was also left out of the Pakistan squad for Australia’s historic visit, which included three ODIs and a T20 along with three Tests.
“I missed that big series at home,” said the Mianwali-born leg-spinner. “I and [Mohammad] Nawaz add balance in bowling and batting departments and we could have had a big role in the series.” said Shadab.
The all-rounder said injuries had affected his ambitions to win back a place in Pakistan’s Test side.
“Yes, I am losing a lot of cricket due to fitness-related problems and that is wasting my talent,” said Shadab. “I have the potential to play in all three formats and I am missing Test cricket.
“A Test team needs a spin all-rounder and I am trying to make a comeback in Test cricket. When you come back to cricket after recovering from a fitness problem you have to start from zero and I have faced this situation many times.”
Having replaced former Pakistan skipper Sarfraz Ahmed as the team’s first-choice wicket-keeper himself, Rizwan is now looking forward for healthy competition with recent selection and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Mohammad Haris.
Haris, who is a similar player to Rizwan with his aggressive batting style and athleticism behind the wickets, was called up in the Pakistan squad following performances in the PSL and the Pakistan Cup — the country’s premier domestic one-day competition.
“I know Sarfaraz Ahmad did not think bad for me,” Rizwan said.
“I am not a captain but I desire that at least five wicket-keepers should be in the Pakistan team on the basis of their batting and fielding skills besides wicket-keeping.
“It is not easy to make a place in the team and it needs a lot of hard work.”
Rizwan said he always set targets for himself for every series but refrained from talking about them prematurely.
On the other hand, Shaheen, who made his debut against the West Indies in 2018, said he is aiming to become the leading fast-bowler in the world.
The pacer, who hails from former Fata’s Khyber Agency, was named the ICC Cricketer of the Year for 2021 at the age of just 21, said the West Indies series would be a chance for him to become the number one bowler in all three formats.
Shaheen, who featured in three first class matches for county side Middlesex recently, said he chose to play in England to prepare for Pakistan’s future tours to the British Isles.
He, however, claimed that he enjoyed playing domestic cricket in Pakistan, giving a special mention to his successful start as the Lahore Qalandar’s captain, who won their maiden title in the cash-rich league’s seventh season this year.
Shaheen said he learnt a lot about captaincy through the experience.