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'Will keep a close eye on the England-West Indies series' - Shaheen Afridi
Pakistan News

'Will keep a close eye on the England-West Indies series' - Shaheen Afridi

Shaheen Afridi will be keenly viewing the upcoming Test series between England and West Indies in order to observe how the teams deal with the interim regulations introduced by the ICC.

The sport has seen a set of fresh rules approved by the apex body amidst the ongoing coronavirus pandemic including the ban on the use of saliva to shine the ball.

The ICC has taken this decision in light of the advice received from medical experts, who have warned against the dangers of COVID-19 transmission through spit. Additionally, social distancing rules will be implemented on the ground as players have been prohibited from celebrating by 'high-fiving' each other.

“Before us, West Indies will be taking on England and we will also keep a close eye on the series as to how they are working with the new rules," Shaheen said in an interaction with the media.

“We have accepted all the protocols [put forward by the ICC] and will try to devise plans keeping them in mind,” he added.

The ban on saliva has attracted criticism from several members of the cricket fraternity with former and current players alike fearing one-sided contests in the favour of batsmen.

Mitchell Starc felt such a step would allow batters to capitalise on the absence of reverse swing while legendary pacer Wasim Akram claimed bowlers would function like "robots" and not be potent enough to threaten the opposition.

It is pertinent to note that bowlers can still apply sweat on the ball, though the effectiveness of this method pales in comparison to saliva.

Meanwhile, Shaheen has targetted a spot among the greats of the game as he intends to become a successful Test bowler like Akram and Waqar Younis.

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The 20-year-old speedster has so far featured in eight Tests and picked up 30 wickets, impressing pundits with his nagging line and length and steep pace.

Having shot to prominence with an eight-fer on first-class debut, Shaheen remains a constant fixture in all three formats for Pakistan and aims to steadily increase his tally of wickets in the longer version of the game.

“I have been focusing more on doing well in Test cricket because then only you are regarded as a fine bowler… like Waqar bhai and Wasim bhai,” he stated.

“They picked up so many wickets in the Tests. I am also aiming at doing the same and keep on performing for my team.”

Pakistan will be heading out to England at the end of this month to partake in three Tests and three T20Is with Azhar Ali and Babar Azam serving as captains of the red-ball and white-ball outfits respectively.

Pakistan's last two Test visits to the country have seen them draw the series on each occasion, providing the existing squad high hopes of excelling this time around as well.

Citing this record, Shaheen said: “We are very hopeful regarding this series. We drew the series in 2016 and then put up great performances in the Champions Trophy. Our track record in England is good and we remain hopeful [of a positive result].”