Shadab Khan and His Erratic Bowling Graph
Shadab Khan started his career brightly, becoming a crucial part of Pakistan’s bowling lineup. However, he has struggled with his bowling form recently.
Half a decade ago, the entire nation witnessed the rise of Pakistan’s very own T20 league. The PSL promised to improve every aspect of the sport’s shortest format, including the prospect of kickstarting a youngster’s career. One of the most prominent emerging stars of the Pakistan Super League and Islamabad United was Shadab Khan. The youngster was picked after his excellent bowling performances for Pakistan Under-19s at the Under-19 World Cup.
The then 18-year-old became a phenomenon in the PSL, picking up nine wickets @ just 19.1 with a brilliant economy rate of 6.6. As a result, he was promptly picked by Pakistan for the series against West Indies. There, he started his international career with a bang. There was a career-best performance of 4/14 along with two Man of the Match awards in his first two games.
Shadab’s exceptional bowling capabilities helped him perform at a very high level within his first ten games. Hence, this further allowed him to expand his range by focusing on the batting department. Pakistan was in dire need of a bowling all-rounder.
Change Of Plan?
Pakistan’s unpredictable and experimental behavior may have led to wrong judgments while selecting the final playing XI in crucial games. They have a history of playing around with the batting positions of cricketers. We have witnessed experimental or innovative moves in the past, such as Shahid Afridi often opening the batting.
However, in Shadab’s case, his bowling form deteriorated as he focused more on his batting. Let’s also not forget that he consciously shed light on his desire to bat higher up since being promoted to Islamabad United’s captaincy. He frequently pushed himself up the order, which would consequently make him an all-round option for Pakistan.
Despite some useful performances with the bat, Shadab’s bowling has continued to suffer as his career has progressed. Since 2019, his bowling has been on the way down, with his economy rate hovering around a very expensive 8.7. Simultaneously, he has struggled to pick up wickets. In 2020, he was able to bag only 7 wickets in 8 games at an average of 35.85, which is more than double his bowling average of 2017 and 2018, his peak.
These figures simply can’t be compared with his performance when he initially came. The reason for that is probably the shift in his focus away from bowling.
Shadab Khan’s name and the word “injury” have been simultaneously mentioned in the news since the past year. He missed some of the major tours that could’ve been make-or-break situations for his career. Moreover, they could’ve helped him improve his game. However, he represented Pakistan in only eight T20Is in 2020 and not a single T20I in 2021 despite back-to-back away tours.
The last time Shadab Khan played T20s was in PSL 2021, where he went wicketless in two matches and only picked up one wicket apiece in the other two games. Despite batting up the order, he scored only 32 runs in four matches before PSL was temporarily suspended. This left us all wondering about his fitness and whether or not his form was going to improve.
The Potential Comeback
With another domestic season coming up later this year and the remainder of the PSL on the cards, it will be interesting to see Shadab’s performances. We still haven’t gotten the chance to assess his form over a sustained period. It would be great for Pakistan if Shadab Khan can follow in the footsteps of his friend and teammate Hasan Ali and make a spectacular comeback. At his best in 2017 and 2018, there is no doubt that Shadab was one of Pakistan’s key performers and a potential game-changer. It would be hugely beneficial for Pakistan if he can get back to that level or even surpass it!
The opinions expressed solely belong to the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views of Grassroots Cricket.