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In an exclusive interview with PakPassion.net, Shadab Khan, fresh from his outstanding performances in UAE spoke about the PSL experience, the praise he has received from Wasim Akram and Dean Jones and his ambition to secure a place in the Pakistan team in all three formats of the game.
 
By Amir Husain (8th March, 2017)
 
The recently concluded Pakistan Super League received global attention and was widely adjudged as a success. Apart from the quality of the competition, the return of high-profile cricket on Pakistani soil with the final of the tournament being played in Pakistan was a fantastic achievement by the organisers.
 
Whilst the tournament encapsulated the essence of the typical Twenty20 franchise-based format in terms of the entertainment aspect of the game, there was a far more important aim of holding a competition which would result in the unearthing of fresh new talent which could serve Pakistan in the future.
 
In that respect, the emergence of the eighteen-year-old all-rounder Shadab Khan who played for the Islamabad United team, represents a fantastic success story for the tournament.
 
In an exclusive interview with PakPassion.net, Shadab, fresh from his outstanding performances in UAE spoke about the PSL experience, the praise he has received from Wasim Akram and Dean Jones and his ambition to secure a place in the Pakistan team in all three formats of the game.
 
For any youngster, a place in one of the five franchises in the PSL tournament must be the stuff of dreams. For Shadab, the experience of playing alongside some top names is something he will cherish for a long time to come.
 
“It was a like a dream come true to play in the PSL. The whole experience of playing such a top-level tournament was amazing. I was aware that pictures from this tournament were being telecast around the world and I really wanted to use this opportunity to show the world what I could do with the bat and ball. I had the prayers of my family and friends guiding me and The Almighty helped me in my aims and the tournament passed off well for me.”
 
To be praised by a legendary cricketer such as Wasim Akam when he classed Shadab as one who has the “ability to play for Pakistan”, or to have received appreciation from one of the top coaches such as Dean Jones where he felt that the youngster had the “head of a thirty-year-old” must be extremely heartening for any player.
 
“It was indeed an honour to receive such praise from former players of such stature. In fact, even our captain Misbah-ul-Haq gave me some great advice throughout the tournament. As you know, this tournament is so much like playing at the international level and the coaches and seniors really encouraged me and instilled confidence in me. I also made sure that I asked them for their advice at every point during the PSL and I hope that all I have learned there will help me in the future.”
 
Shadab’s presence in the Islamabad line-up was of great importance in their quest for retaining the title in the 2017 edition. Whilst the young all-rounder picked nine wickets and scored sixty-six runs, he feels that he could have done better and the room for improvement is something which will continue to drive him as he explained, “I worked very hard in practice and also during the domestic season before this tournament and that did pay off in part. I feel that I bowled well and with a good economy rate, especially for a spinner in such competitions. Where I lacked was in the batting department and I am disappointed that I could not perform well enough to be a stand-out all-rounder in the tournament because I do feel that I had the ability to do better.”
 
The importance of a good mentor in the development of any young player is crucial. The former Pakistan leg-spinner Mushtaq Ahmed has been an instrumental in imparting knowledge to many players including the much-respected current Pakistan bowler Yasir Shah. In that regard, the advice of Mushtaq to Shadab seems to have played a key role during the PSL.
 
“I am indebted to Mushtaq Ahmed who has been my adviser throughout the past few weeks in the PSL. He remained in touch and gave me important tips on how to bowl to specific batsmen and the strategy needed in particular game situations. His words gave me a lot of confidence and I am really happy that I had someone of his calibre as my personal adviser and am sure that had a positive effect on my performance during the PSL.”
 
Misbah-ul-Haq’s leadership was praised in many quarters for his role in taking the Islamabad team to the pinnacle in the 2016 edition. Whilst the second edition of the PSL did not result in the retention of the title, the experience gained by the younger members by playing under Misbah was invaluable. This is something Shadab appreciated as he stated, “Misbah’s advice was simply fantastic and I consider him a legendary player. He always had words for me for my batting but also gave me invaluable tips about bowling within the stumps during games as I was sometimes losing focus in these tense Twenty20 games. He told me how I could increase my chances of taking wickets by following the simple discipline of bowling at the stumps. Of course, there was much more to learn from Misbah’s batting but sadly I could not apply what I learnt as we saw in the last knockout game against Karachi. I failed to take stock of the situation which our captain is so good in doing. But I can assure you that I have learnt my lesson and if such a situation occurs again, I won’t repeat that mistake.”
 
The 2017 PSL tournament for all its successes had some moments of darkness when two of Islamabad United’s players were accused of corruption and suspended. The shock of such a revelation is something Shadab feels to this day.
 
“It was shocking but we had no idea this had happened until we were told that the two players had already been sent back to Pakistan. As far as I am concerned, we have all been told many times in simple language during special lectures to be wary of such situations so this was a strange thing to have happened.”
 
The disappointment of bowing out of the tournament in which Islamabad had been the ultimate victors in 2016 was a hard pill to swallow for the squad members but for Shadab, there are some memories of the tournament which he would treasure forever. Whilst the game against Lahore Qalandars where he scored forty-two runs and took two wickets would be standout in terms of his personal score and bowling figures but the performance that gave him the most satisfaction was in the final game against Karachi as he recalls, “This was a tough game as there was a lot of dew and it was difficult to grip the ball. I only took one wicket in that game but the experience of bowling in such conditions will stay with me forever. Apart from this game, I was also pleased to have taken the wickets of Kamran Akmal and Babar Azam as they were the top two run-scorers in the tournament.”
 
With the PSL tournament now history, Shadab’s thoughts are directed towards his future. It is clear that the experience that the young all-rounder has acquired during the past few weeks along with the exposure to top-level cricket should help him in his future ambitions. Far from being over-ambitious in his aims for the future, Shadab is keeping his feet firmly on the ground as he remarked, “I feel that I am ready to play in all three formats of the game and make a mark for myself as an all-rounder. But I also know that there is hard work to be done for me to succeed in achieving my goals. Like any other Pakistani player, I would also like to play for my country. To achieve that I will continue to work hard regardless of however long it takes to be noticed by the selectors for a chance to play in the national team”, he concluded.