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News

Shaheen Shah Afridi named captain of Lahore Qalandars

Fast bowler has been with the squad for four years and is their leading wicket-taker as well

Umar Farooq
Umar Farooq
20-Dec-2021
Shaheen Shah Afridi has represented Pakistan in 21 Tests, 28 ODIs and 39 T20Is  •  PCB

Shaheen Shah Afridi has represented Pakistan in 21 Tests, 28 ODIs and 39 T20Is  •  PCB

Lahore Qalandars have named Shaheen Shah Afridi as captain for the upcoming PSL season. He replaces Sohail Akhtar, who led the team for the last two seasons. This will the fast bowler's first time in charge of a team at senior level but he isn't coming into the job completely cold. He was captain of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas Under-16s at the PCB's Cricket Stars tournament in 2016.
Over the last two years, Afridi has become one of the best players in the world. He has represented Pakistan in 21 Tests, 28 ODIs and 39 T20Is and has been with the Qalandars squad since 2018. In that time, he's picked up 50 wickets from 37 games, which is a record for the franchise.
"Shaheen is our asset and has stuck with us through thick and thin," Sameen Rana, Qalandars owner and manager, told ESPNcricinfo. "I still remember the day when a young, 18-year-old boy came to Lahore Qalandars for the first time in 2018 and over the years he has developed as one of the finest fast bowlers in the world. He grew with us and helped the franchise to become stronger. He is Pakistan's top-notch bowler at the moment and over the last three years he gained all the necessary experience playing in all formats of the game. I think this is the best time to give him a chance to show his leadership qualities.
"One thing that impressed us all is that he is an excellent learner and I have absolutely no doubt that he will come good as captain. With his performances he has earned enormous respect. It's a remarkable journey for Shaheen becoming the premium fast bowler and we are extremely happy to be a part of his development first as a player and now allow him to thrive as captain. I wish him very good luck."
As for Afridi, he is relishing the additional responsibility for the forthcoming season. "I am very excited and honoured to accept the role as captain," Afridi said. "I hope I can give my best as captain. This is a big responsibility and I am happy that they trusted me with this leadership role. Leading a side is the highest role in cricket and equally a privilege for a cricketer. I am grateful to the Lahore Qalandars management and looking forward to the new season next month."
In isolation, Qalandars qualified for the final in 2020, but overall they have struggled to make a mark in the PSL. They have tried various captains in the past, starting with Azhar Ali who was removed from the leadership role in 2016. With most other teams retaining their local core across the first three seasons of the league, Qalandars didn't have enough options to choose their captain. As a result, they turned to an overseas option in Brendon McCullum before Fakhar Zaman took over as captain.
Akhtar, who is uncapped in international cricket, then stepped up as captain over the past two seasons. Under his leadership, Qalandars won the 2018 Abu Dhabi T20 trophy and finished runners-up in the PSL in 2020, but lost their way last year when they finished fifth in the six-team league earlier this year.
Akhtar, however, is still an integral part of Qalandars' core group having been retained by the franchise ahead of the draft.

Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo's Pakistan correspondent