The Pakistan Super League in 2017 saw the rise of a young and precocious leg-spin talent named Shadab Khan. To the Islamabad United coach Dean Jones, Shadab Khan was a phenomenon that Pakistan needed to harness as soon as possible and use him in all formats of the game.
And so the young man with an overpowering smile and an even stronger googly to go with it became the darling of the Pakistan fans in very little time.
He debuted for Pakistan against West Indies and true to expectations, he picked up two wickets to signal the arrival to international cricket of a very special talent.
It appeared that Dean Jones’ prophecy of greatness for this young man was truly a matter of time. If there were any doubts about this forecast, the events of the summer of 2017 would show the world that Shadab Khan was a force to be reckoned with in international cricket.
Pakistan in recent times have lacked a leg-spinner who could take the attack to the opposition in the 50-over format but now things are different. Still a teenager during the Champions Trophy in 2017, Shadab Khan’s maturity in his bowling was well beyond his years.
If there was one example needed of his astuteness with the ball, it had to be the manner in which he setup and then trapped a much more experienced campaigner like Yuvraj Singh in the final of the tournament.
Two years on, Shadab will return once again to England where he first gained his reputation as one of the brightest talents in international cricket. However, unlike 2017, Shadab Khan’s string of less than ideal performances in the ODI series against South Africa and in the fourth edition of the PSL in 2019 would not be the ideal preparation for the ICC World Cup.
The challenge for Shadab and Pakistan would be to recreate his form of 2017 once again but the question in many observers’ minds is whether Shadab Khan’s mystery factor is now history and most sides have already worked him out.
With 47 ODI wickets to his name, Pakistan will be looking at Shadab Khan to regain his form and to prove that the wicket-taking Shadab Khan of 2017 was not a flash in the pan.
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