Lahore, Oct 8 (UiTV/IANS) – Ramiz Raja, the chairman of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), gave a huge update on the availability of pace spearhead Shaheen Shah Afridi, saying that the left-arm fast bowler feels he will be ready to play in Pakistan’s opening match of T20 World Cup against India on October 23 at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
Afridi had sustained a right knee ligament injury during Pakistan’s first Test against Sri Lanka at Galle and has been out of action ever since, missing the Asia Cup, seven T20Is at home against England and the ongoing tri-series in New Zealand, which also features Bangladesh.
“I had spoken to Shaheen the day before (on Wednesday). He said, ‘I haven’t felt this fit in a while’. So, the progress is very good. His doctor has sent me videos of him, where he is 90 per cent fit. He feels he will play against India and will be battle ready,” said Raja in a chat with DawnNews.
Afridi was the star performer for Pakistan when they had defeated India by 10 wickets in their 2021 T20 World Cup tournament opener in Dubai, picking 3/31 in his four overs. Now with his availability being confirmed for the T20 World Cup in Australia by Raja, Pakistan will be having a huge sigh of relief.
“This is a very good news because these knee injuries are very technical and extremely delicate. So our opinion on this was till he doesn’t get 110 percent fit, we won’t take a risk (of playing him). When I talked to him and he said, ‘I am currently 110 percent (fit) now… so you don’t worry. I’ll play practice matches in Australia and I’m ready for the India match’,” added Raja.
Talking further about the high-octane India-Pakistan match, Raja said, “The Indian team has also started respecting Pakistan, especially after they realised that Pakistan can win any match against them. We have provided the team with the best available resources to win the World Cup.”
Apart from Afridi, left-handed batter Fakhar Zaman was added as a travelling reserve in the T20 World Cup squad due to a knee injury. Raja believes if the southpaw is declared fit, he can still be added to the main team.
“He is also in the process of rehab. I think if he does become fit, he has a lot of value, there’s no doubt to do. The call will be taken by the team, how they are looking at their combination.”
Raja also disclosed that leg-spinner Usman Qadir, who is in the 15-man squad for the T20 World Cup, is struggling with a hairline fracture to his finger. “Unfortunately Usman Qadir is dealing with a hairline fracture in his finger. So it remains to be seen, what options are left for the team to choose from.”