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AFTER guiding the Lahore Qalandars to their first Pakistan Super League victory, Shaheen Shah Afridi, like the rest of his Pakistan colleagues, must swiftly transition from the razzle-dazzle of the country’s premier T20 tournament to the grueling toil of international Test cricket.
After considerable conjecture and dilly-dallying, Australia has finally arrived in Pakistan for their first visit in 24 years, early in the morning on Sunday. And by the time Shaheen hoisted the trophy, it was nearly Monday, and the Qalandars had finally tasted victory after six seasons of fiascos and a final heartbreak, in 2020. This was Shaheen’s first season as captain of the Qalandars.
The reigning ICC Cricketer of the Year, who has established himself as the national team’s pace bowling lead at the age of 21, personifies Pakistan cricket’s future. He, along with Pakistan’s current breed of world-famous stars, such as skipper Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan, who led runners-up Multan Sultans in Sunday’s PSL final, will now look to inspire the national team in the three-Test series against Australia, which begins this week in Rawalpindi and continues with matches in Karachi and Lahore. Three One-Day Internationals and a Twenty20 match will follow, with Islamabad United captain Shadab Khan joining the three.
The PSL has developed these young players into leaders, strengthening the team’s leadership ability. Pakistan’s first-rate performances at the conclusion of last year, especially their journey to the Twenty20 World Cup semi-finals, where they were beaten by ultimate champions Australia, proved this.
Following Australia’s landing in Pakistan, Test captain Pat Cummins was eager to point out that a whole generation of Australian cricketers had lost out on the opportunity to play in Pakistan. Robust performances would undoubtedly help Pakistan compensate for lost time as international cricket returns to the country soon, with New Zealand and England scheduled to visit later this year.