Shaheen Afridi hoping to be ready for PSL 2023

The Pakistan left-arm speedster is closing in on a sustained rehab and is vying to represent Lahore Qalandars at the forthcoming edition of Pakistan's premier T20 competition. 
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Out from the scene with a persistent knee problem, Pakistan spearhead Shaheen Afridi, however, is hopeful of regaining full fitness ahead of the looming edition of the Pakistan Super League (PSL), country's premier domestic T20 competition. 

The left-arm pacer first picked up the injury during the tour of Sri Lanka last July and subsequently missed the tour of Netherlands, the Asia Cup and the T20I series versus England, undergoing rehab to be fit in time for the T20 World Cup in Australia. 

Shaheen did make the trip Down Under but couldn't really pack a punch with the ball. Worse, he ended up aggravating the knee problem and was further sidelined for an elongated home season that featured Test matches versus England and New Zealand. His presence reflecting on Pakistan's fortunes, they lost the England series with an embarrassing 3-0 margin. 

At pains to have missed so much cricket, Shaheen Afridi is now vying to return to competitive cricket via the PSL 2023, where he will be playing for Lahore Qalandars and captaining the side. The young speedster provided a positive update on his rehab and fitness in a conversation with PCB Digital organised by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB). 

Shaheen Afridi 'excited' for comeback via PSL 2023

"PSL is one of the best leagues in the world and the quality of cricket tests you as a bowler," Shaheen told PCB Digital. "I am very excited to be making my comeback here and look forward to all the challenges that it will throw at me. Thanks to Almighty, I am doing well. I am ticking both the bowling workload and fitness requirement boxes."

From the point of his debut in the league back in 2018, the 22-year-old seamer has taken the most number of wickets in the PSL, with his 70 scalps bagged at a healthy ER of 7.63. In a league that kicked off in 2016, he is only third on the list of best wicket-takers in the tournament's history. 

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Shaheen's heart, however, beats for Test match cricket, where he was enjoying a very successful period until the injury plagued his wings. The pacer, who is just one shy of recording his 100th Test scalp and is averaging only 24.86, says it wasn't easy for him to watch Pakistan play England and New Zealand without him having the chance to make a difference. 

"It is tough when you miss your home games because of the injury. Before our Test home season, I even missed the seven England T20Is. I was more distressed for missing the Tests, because I like Test cricket more. A bowler is measured on how he performs in Test cricket and I wanted to take wickets against England."

On comeback trail, Shaheen revealed that the rehabilitation programme felt so difficult to him at one point that he even considered giving up the sport entirely. He said since the muscle he was focusing on wasn't showing any improvements, he got frustrated and annoyed about things until they finally changed for the better. 

"There were times when I wanted to give up. I was working on only one muscle and it was not improving. Often during the rehabilitation sessions, I used to say to myself ‘this is enough, I cannot do this anymore’."

"But then I used to watch my bowling on YouTube and see how well I had done and that motivated me and I told myself ‘to push a little more’ … It is frustrating for a fast bowler to miss cricket because of an injury," he added.