Former Pakistan players, Shahid Afridi and Shoaib Akhtar, have expressed their support for Sharjeel Khan. The left-handed opener is making his return to the Pakistan T20I squad for the upcoming tours of South Africa and Zimbabwe.
Speaking on a television program, Shoaib Akhtar urged Sharjeel Khan to back his natural game in the T20Is against South Africa. The former pacer feels that Sharjeel Khan's form with the bat will help Pakistan's batting department, which is heavily reliant on Babar Azam at the moment.
"Show your guts. Be a man and go on the field, it is time for payback. Sharjeel has all the shots in the book. All he needs is confidence. He should allow himself to display his talent. If he goes on to become a fitter player and a reliable opener, it will solve half of the Pakistan team’s problems. Currently, there is a lot of load on Babar Azam," said Shoaib Akhtar.
Shahid Afridi also extended his support for Sharjeel Khan and stated that he has always supported the batsman because of his match-winning ability. However, the 44-year-old feels that the southpaw still needs to put in more work as far as his fitness is concerned.
“I have supported Sharjeel Khan from the start. He is a match-winner and his batting has always helped Pakistan. Azam Khan is also a hard-hitter. However, the fitness standards should be the same for all players. I think these guys can represent Pakistan for a long time if they can focus on their fitness levels," said Afridi.
Sharjeel Khan was convicted in a spot-fixing scandal in 2017
Sharjeel Khan is set to his make his comeback to the international stage after nearly half a decade. He was amongst a slew of players who were found guilty of spot-fixing in the 2017 edition of the PSL.
Khan was initially handed a five-year ban, which was later cut to half the time following an unconditional apology from the player. Sharjeel Khan returned to competitive cricket in 2020 and was the top-scorer in the truncated PSL 2021 season.