Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo's Pakistan correspondent
Chronic back pain has forced Shahid Afridi to end his Pakistan Super League season early. The 41-year old allrounder, who has been in rehab, said he only chose to take the field this year "for the fans" but the pain had become too much to bear.
Sunday night's game for Quetta Gladiators was effectively Afridi's last game in the PSL. He picked up two wickets in the game, against Islamabad United in Lahore, and ran Azam Khan out with a direct hit. It was his 53rd outing in the PSL, where he has been four teams over the years, playing for Peshawar Zalmi, Multan Sultans and Karachi Kings before Gladiators.
"I was trying to sign off on a good note; my lower-back injury has been there for 15-16 years, and I have been playing with it.. But now it has become so much that it has affected my groin, my knee and it goes down to extreme pain in my toes," Afridi said in a social media message. "I tried to cope with it but can't tolerate the pain anymore. After all, when you have good health, you have the world with you.
"I will go back and undergo rehabilitation on my fitness. There is cricket coming up, like the KPL [Kashmir Premier League] and T10 league. So I will soon return in front of my fans again."
Afridi's stint this season was a disrupted one. He picked up a back injury during a training session, and then tested positive for Covid-19, and missed Gladiators' first few games. Then, back on the field, he was carted for 67 runs in his four overs by United, the most expensive four-over spell in PSL history.
He appeared to have hit his groove last evening, again against United, but was visibly in pain, and didn't come out to bat as Gladiators won by five wickets.
Afridi last played international cricket more than five years ago, but continued to take part in the PSL ever since its inception. He led Zalmi in the first season and was part of the team that won the title the following year.