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Shadab Khan – How injuries have stunted a potential great from achieving success 

Shadab Khan looked very impressive when he first appeared on the international scene, in 2018
Shadab Khan looked very impressive when he first appeared on the international scene, in 2018
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Beenish Orakzai

On March 26, 2017, Pakistan introduced one of their young talents – Shadab Khan – against West Indies. He debuted at the age of 18 and earned the Man of the Match in his very first match. The leg-spinner also produced a notable performance in the Champions Trophy later that year.

Shadab Khan is indeed an exceptional talent. Still young – 23 – he has time on his side. However, his journey of five years in international cricket has already been affected by recurring injuries.

White-ball bowling stats

Since his entry into international cricket, Pakistan’s current white-ball vice-captain has taken 62 ODI wickets in 46 innings. His best figures are 4/28 against Zimbabwe in 2018.

Shadab Khan also has 73 T20I wickets in 60 innings, having 4/14 as his best figures, taken against West Indies in 2017.

The most valuable of his recent performances has to be the 4/26 in the 2021 T20 World Cup semi-final against Australia. This effort almost took his side to the Final before Matthew Wade turned the game in the penultimate over of the match. Still, his 4/26 are the best ever bowling figures in a T20 World Cup semi-final.

Shadab Khan had great figures in the World T20 semi-final against Australia
Shadab Khan had great figures in the World T20 semi-final against Australia

Impactful all-rounder

Shadab Khan's performance in the 2021 T20 World Cup demonstrated how he could be a game changer through his bowling. But the leg-spinner has been gradually proving himself as an all-rounder as well.

A lower-order batsman, Khan has not yet gotten a big break to prove the batting talent he possesses. He has still managed to play some impactful knocks. His 28* at a strike rate of 233 against West Indies in December 2021 being one example.

Shadab Khan has suffered a dip in form in ODI cricket since his promising debut in 2017
Shadab Khan has suffered a dip in form in ODI cricket since his promising debut in 2017

Most impressive player of PSL 7

Shadab recently displayed his all-round abilities as the captain of Islamabad United in the Pakistan Super League (PSL). He managed 268 runs at a strike rate of 162.2 while also taking 19 wickets.

The most significant of his knocks, while pushing himself up in the batting order at Nos. 3 or 4, has to be his 91 off 42 in response to Multan’s massive score of 216.

Captain's innings from Shadab Khan. A brilliant 91 off only 42 balls which is his highest ever score in T20s #PSL7 #IUvMS https://t.co/fPSbukoK8t

Albeit going in vain, the United skipper proved himself to be a fighter under pressure with his captain's knock. Shadab Khan was also the bowler of the tournament, despite missing some matches due to an injury. 5/28 were his best figures in a match, registered against Quetta Gladiators.

His remarkable performance in PSL led many on Twitter to describe PSL as 'Pakistan Shadab League', and some to name him as 'Shadab Superstar Khan'.

It shouldn’t be called PSL 7 anymore. We should just call it Shadab’s tournament.

Subjected to injuries

Despite being such a remarkable talent, Pakistan have been intermittently deprived of Shadab Khan’s valuable contributions due to his recurrent injuries. He first suffered from a groin injury in 2018’s Asia’s Cup. The leggie also missed out on the tour to South Africa as well as the home series against Zimbabwe’s.

He also suffered a dip in his bowling form over the years due to his recurring injuries. Still, the 23-year-old returned better than ever in the T20 World Cup last year and carried on with his good performances all the way to PSL 2022.

Shadab Khan was in great form during the PSL 2022
Shadab Khan was in great form during the PSL 2022

Back to uncertain participations

However, as he shone with his all-round capabilities, another niggle emerged during a PSL match against Karachi Kings, later identified as a groin injury. Khan did not need an immediate long rehab and returned to lead his team to the playoffs.

But his participation was uncertain for the ODIs against Australia and he was later rested for the series. He didn't play in the one-off T20I against the same team also.

The reason for him missing out is said to be the need to avoid aggravating his injury. Such unpredictability again poses some questions about the the bowling all-rounder. Will he once again miss out on future international white-ball cricket and face a loss of bowling form anew?


Edited by Akshay Saraswat
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