Shaheen Afridi got into the record books yesterday with figures of 8 for 39 in the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy, the best ever by a Pakistani on first-class debut. So young is he, he was born after the turn of the millennium - April 2000 - and he was just four years old when his brother Riaz Afridi played his solitary Test match for Pakistan. Here's a look at what we know about this precocious fast-bowling talent.
Does the surname sound familiar?
Shaheen was born in the Afridi tribe in the Khyber Agency in Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) of Pakistan. The area mainly borders with Nangarhar Province in Afghanistan to the west, and ranges from the mountainous terrain of Tirah valley down to Peshawar. He was raised in a small town called Landi Kotal, always in the shadow of insurgency in the aftermath of 9/11. While his family remained there, Shaheen moved to Peshawar, using it as his base to play cricket.
How much has he played so far?
Initially a tape-ball cricketer, elder brother Riaz Afridi, who played one-off Test for Pakistan in 2004, pushed him to play with a hard ball. He was first selected for the FATA region in an Under-16 talent hunt programme, and became the leading wicket-taker for his region with 12 wickets at 16.17 in 2015. He impressed the national selectors in a high performance camp that was called for players who had impressed at U-16 level. His pace and fitness won him a ticket for an U-16 tour to Australia, even though his outing in New South Wales at the Bradman Oval in Bowral didn't go well as he only managed four wickets in six games.
He played another season on the U-16 circuit for FATA, snaring 19 wickets at 10.59, and elevating himself to the Under-19 circuit. He toured with the U-19 team in Sri Lanka, taking five wickets in three games.
At home, he continued to shine on the U-19 circuit, featuring for Khyber Agency in PCB's inter-district U-19 tournament, where he was the leading wicket-taker with 29 wickets at 18.07. His performance had him selected at inter-regional level for FATA - where once again he topped the table with 21 wickets at 12.48.
What is so special about him?
His settled action, his game awareness and his inswinger with the new ball. According to Mushtaq Ahmed, who discovered him at U-16 level, his fitness and height as a fast bowler are his best attributes. He is also handy with the bat in the lower order, and his big-hitting ability is an attractive feature. "He has great cricketing temperament and at a young was making a lot of sense with his field positions," Mushtaq said. "His action is pretty repeatable and we didn't really bother to work on it. It's repeatable and that is what a coach wants to have in his bowler. He listens and picks things up very quickly."
How does he already have a BPL deal?
He was handled by a sports management company based in Lahore. His agent Talha Aisham emailed Dhaka Dynamites videos of Shaheen's bowling, and asked if they would be interested in signing him. They agreed, subject to a formal endorsement from Mushtaq, who is the Pakistan NCA head coach. Both Mushtaq and captain Kumar Sangakkara exchanged emails, and the deal was locked in for two years starting from 2017 for a sum of around Rs 1 crore.
Why the attention now?
He made a dream debut in first-class cricket, playing for Khan Research Laboratory against Rawalpindi, picking up 8 for 39 in 15 overs in the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy, Pakistan premier domestic tournament. His innings figures are statistically the best on debut in first-class cricket in Pakistan. He signed off with nine wickets in the match.