In exclusive remarks to PakPassion.net, Shahnawaz Dahani spoke about his own rise to fame, the reasons for his side's success in PSL, Mohammad Rizwan's exceptional leadership qualities and why he feels that The Sultans are best placed to become the first team to win the title two years in succession.
By Amir Husain (5th February, 2022)
The Shahnawaz Dahani story is one that has the ability to inspire many future generations of cricketers from around the world. Born and raised in a village near the city of Larkana in Sindh, where facilities for cricket were limited, starting hard-ball cricket without progressing through the well-recognized junior route. He appeared for local trials and was selected for the regional team at the Under-19 level after borrowing cricket boots and socks from a friend. He impressed with his performances in domestic cricket and was then picked to play in PSL 6 by Multan Sultans. The rest, as they say, is history as he became the top wicket-taker with 20 wickets in PSL 6 playing an integral part in their title winning season and then progressed to become a T20I debutante for Pakistan against Bangladesh in November 2021.
Fast forward to 2022 where Dahani is considered as one of the key components of Multan Sultans’ bid to win back to back PSL titles, the pacer in an exclusive interview with PakPassion.net spoke about his meteoric rise to become one of Pakistan’s most well-loved and popular cricketers, “First of all, I would like to thank the Almighty for His mercy and help throughout my life and career. To be part of the PSL winning Multan Sultans squad last year, to have debuted for my beloved Pakistan and to have gained the admiration of people from my region as well as my country is something which is like a dream come true for me and for which I am indebted to all. The road to this success has not been easy and has involved a lot of hard work and dedication for which the prayers of my parents and my admirers have been crucial. I hope to continue performing in the same way and with my usual enthusiasm and help win games when given the opportunity, not just for Multan Sultans but also for Pakistan”
Whilst other sides at the PSL have impressed during each of the past six editions of the tournament, Multan Sultans impressive performances according to Dahani seem to be due to a unique chemistry amongst the squad which can easily be attributed to the combination of players and the team management lead by Andy Flower and Mohammad Rizwan.
“The secret of our winning combination is simply based on the fact that we have a well-balanced squad and one that has gelled well with each other as is visible from the way we perform on the field. For that the credit not only lies with the players themselves but with our Coaches and other members of the team management who have provided us all the support and assistance that we need to perform at our best. As you can see from how our squad is performing that our motto is to work hard, win games, enjoy the game and enjoy each other’s company as well.”
A smile on his face and never prone to knee-jerk on-field reactions, Mohammad Rizwan who was recently announced as the ICC T20I player of the year, seems to be setting new standards of leadership at the PSL which others would do well to follow. This is a fact not lost upon his team-mates and on Dahani who is an ardent admirer of Rizwan’s style of leadership which lends to an atmosphere of calmness on and off the field.
“There is so much to admire about Mohammad Rizwan as our captain but one aspect of his captaincy that I love is the fact that he remains calm and collected at all stages of the game, no matter what hurdles he is faced with. His leadership qualities especially come to light when we are faced with pressure situations, whether we are batting or bowling. Whenever a tough situation arises for a bowler, he the first one to put an arm around the shoulder to ease the tension and he never loses his cool. Instead, he keeps calm and smiling even under so much stress and backs his bowlers which is a great quality for any captain and something any bowler would want from their leader.”
Azhar Mahmood recently moved to Islamabad United as their Head Coach after his stint with Multan Sultans. As he accepted in a recent interview with PakPassion.net, the decision was not an easy one for him and judging from what Dahani has to say about working with Azhar, he will be missed at Multan Sultans. However, the presence of another experienced figure, Ottis Gibson as Azhar’s replacement is something of a Godsend for a young bowler like Dahani and is an opportunity that he is very happy to accept with both hands, “I have had the unique honour of working with two of the best coaches in the game in Azhar Mahmood and now with Ottis Gibson. They both have different qualities and approaches to the game which have provided great opportunities for learning for me as a player. They both have their own strengths, and to me they are both legends of the game which makes my association with them so special. To have the opportunity to work under two renowned names and receive their advice has been phenomenal and I am really enjoying working under Ottis Gibson in the same way I did when Azhar Mahmood was our Bowling Coach.”