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The Case of Ahmad Shahzad: On-Field Performance or PR Campaigns?

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Pakistan cricket has a history of producing legendary players and ever since the introduction of T20 cricket, the talent pool in the country has increased drastically. The likes of Babar Azam, Shaheen Afridi, Shadab Khan, Mohammad Rizwan, Naseem Shah, Azam Khan, Imad Wasim and many more are some of the most sought-after players in T20 cricket around the globe.

For all the great T20 players Pakistan has produced, some stars have faded despite putting in some solid performances earlier in their career. One such player is Ahmad Shahzad, who lost form and was down in the pecking order, losing his place in the national team first and then losing out on a Pakistan Super League (PSL) contract.

Despite a torrid run of form over the past year, Shahzad has regained some form recently, putting in solid displays in the domestic circuit. While his batting form should be able to secure him a place in one of the six teams in PSL 9 but there are some glaring issues that might impact his chances to secure a PSL deal.

While his on-field achievements are commendable, they are being overshadowed by debates around his blatant PR campaigns. Several renowned journalists and Twitter accounts have been vocal in their support for Shahzad, leading to suspicions about the authenticity of these endorsements.

The apparent orchestrated nature of these tweets has raised eyebrows, questioning whether they are genuine expressions of support or a strategic PR move.

Tweets from ‘sports journalists’ and mainstream media journalists, who hardly ever post about cricket, have been seen voicing their support for Ahmad Shahzad. Which not only raises question marks on Shahzad’s PR campaign but also the moral compass of these said journalists.

While there are talks of Shahzad possibly coming back into the national side or a PSL team, the most disturbing part of these PR campaigns is that there has been an uproar on Shahzad getting a central contract from the PCB. Which not only undermines the national central contract but also makes this PR stunt more apparent.

Have a look at some of these tweets:

^As if Shahzad is the first player in history to congratulate the winning side

This isn’t the first time that a player has resorted to PR campaigns to get back into the national side. Previously, all-rounder, Shoaib Malik was the center of attention on social media as a massive campaign to get Malik back into the national side for the 2022 T20 World Cup in Australia was launched.

In the realm of professional sports, particularly in a cricket-loving nation like Pakistan, an athlete’s performance should ideally be the foremost basis for their recognition and selection. Shahzad’s recent displays with the bat are indeed noteworthy and signal a player who could be an asset to any team. However, the focus on a possibly managed social media narrative could potentially undermine the authenticity of his comeback.

While strategic PR is a reality of modern professional sports, it is the genuine on-field performances that resonate most deeply with fans and selectors. As the PSL season approaches, it will be interesting to see if Shahzad does make his way back into Pakistan’s premier T20 tournament.

They call me the Sports Guy!

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