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Will We Ever See Peak Shaheen Afridi Again?

“What a beauty, he’s on absolute fire, they can not play him!” — Feels like a lifetime ago, doesn’t it? Remember that T20 World Cup in 2021 when a baby-faced Shaheen Afridi ripped through India’s top order? The teenage sensation had the cricket world at his feet. That year was his peak, snagging a whopping 78 wickets in 36 international matches and then winning the ICC Player of the Year award for 2021.

But the young star’s story was just beginning. In 2022, at 21 years old, Shaheen Afridi led the Lahore Qalandars to their first-ever PSL title, breaking a six-year drought. With another T20 World Cup on the horizon, the now-bearded warrior was primed for redemption, eager to avenge those three sixes from Mathew Wade and perhaps even end Pakistan’s 13-year T20 World Cup trophy drought. With 10 wickets in 6 games leading up to the final, Pakistan and Shaheen seemed poised for victory against England. But as we all know, fate had other plans…

On the third ball of the 12th over, disaster struck. Brooks smashed a hard drive, and Shaheen Afridi, reaching like an eagle, snagged a spectacular catch. But wait… he’s hobbling! Something’s wrong. The replay shows it: he twisted his knee while taking the catch. Shaheen was off the field, and with him went Pakistan’s hopes. He later admitted that his absence might have changed the outcome, a bitter pill to swallow as Pakistan lost the final to England.

Shaheen Afridi stats
Top wicket takers of 2024 in T20Is (players from full member nations)

 

Fast forward to 2024, and Shaheen Shah Afridi is back on top of the T20I wicket-taking charts with 29 scalps in 17 games. But something’s off. He’s not the same Shaheen we fell in love with. That raw aggression, that unbridled pace, that sense of inevitability — it’s all a bit… muted. He’s good, no doubt, but he’s not the world-beater he once was. So what happened?

A closer look at Shaheen’s stats from 2021 to 2024 tells a rollercoaster story. His economy rate (ER) ballooned to 8.72 in 2023 after that nasty knee injury, and he was only averaging 1.20 wickets per game. But 2024 brought a glimmer of hope: his ER dropped to 7.86 and his wickets per game climbed to 1.71. It’s like he’s slowly crawling back to his old self, showing flashes of that peak form we all remember. There’s a definite improvement, but those moments of brilliance are still too few and far between. Something’s just not clicking like it used to.

Shaheen Afridi stats

One theory? He’s become predictable. As a top bowler, opponents are studying his every move, analyzing his bowling patterns. Batters have probably figured out his tricks, and it’s showing in the numbers.

Even Muhammad Asif wrote on Twitter after the recent game against Canada: “Two boundaries on the first two balls. Shaheen has become too predictable, especially in his first over. Batsmen are now ready to hit him for boundaries on that same full, inswinging ball he used to dominate with.

Speaking of the powerplay, that’s where Shaheen’s decline is most glaring. In 2021 and 2022, his ER was rock solid, below 7, meaning he kept things tight early on. But after his comeback, that number shot up to 8.50 in 2023 and hasn’t come down much in 2024 (7.63).

Batters seem to know what’s coming, expecting that full, swinging delivery. And Shaheen, being stubborn, keeps bowling it.

Another reason for Shaheen’s recent struggles could be linked to his knee injury. Knee injuries are notoriously problematic for fast bowlers due to the immense stress placed on their joints during their delivery stride.

Even though Shaheen has technically recovered, such injuries can result in chronic pain or reduced mobility, which can significantly impact a bowler’s effectiveness. In Shaheen’s case, there’s a noticeable decline in his pace, down by 5 to 7 km/h on average. This reduction in speed could be a crucial factor in why he no longer feels like the same old Shaheen who once dominated the cricketing world with his unrelenting pace and accuracy.

Even though he’s leading the wicket-taking charts this year, the underlying stats — wickets per game and economy rate — tell a different story. He’s not as efficient or effective as he used to be. That, combined with the drop in pace and fewer match-winning performances, is why he just doesn’t feel like the same old Shaheen.

Another factor affecting Shaheen’s performance has been the ongoing politics surrounding the team’s captaincy, which has clearly impacted his on-field focus. While I prefer not to talk about this too much, it’s evident that these distractions have played a role.

Despite these challenges, the silver lining is that Shaheen has been on an upward arc following full recovery from his injury. With Amir inevitably retiring again after the World Cup, Shaheen is poised to take on the leading role and become the guiding star for the next generation of talented Pakistani pace bowlers. Still just 24 years old, Shaheen has a world of opportunities waiting for him, and if he stays fit nobody can predict his true ceiling. There’s no limit.


Check out the latest updates regarding the T20 World Cup 2024 here!

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Trying to combine my love for Sports and Numbers.


  • Again your article is providing wrong information.
    Shaheen this year in T20 in 2024
    18 matches 32 wicket avg 15 economy 7.71
    this is best year of shaheen.
    Shaheen this year in T20 in 2021
    21 matches 23 wicket avg 26 economy 7.86
    I don’t know what cricket you watch


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