LPL 2020: ‘It is always fulfilling to give back something to the game’ – Shahid Afridi on playing the Lanka Premier League

Srinjoy Sanyal
·3-min read

Shahid Afridi playing for the ICC World XI against the West Indies in May 2018
Shahid Afridi playing for the ICC World XI against the West Indies in May 2018

Former Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi is defying age to lead the Galle Gladiators in the ongoing Lanka Premier League 2020. He stated that he taking part in the inaugural edition of Sri Lanka’s premier T20 league out of his love for the game, and also to nurture youngsters.

In an interview with ANI, Shahid Afridi showered praise on the various stakeholders for organising the event in the middle of a pandemic. He sounded confident that LPL 2020 would be a huge stepping stone towards the growth of cricket in the country.

“It’s a new league and from the Sri Lankan point of view, a very important tournament for the growth of the game in the island nation. In tournaments like these, we have to make sure to help some of the young players grow. There are some good local talents also and I want to contribute in whatever way I can. It is always fulfilling to give back something to the game,” Shahid Afridi said.

However, LPL 2020 was rocked even before it started with marquee players such as Chris Gayle, Liam Plunkett, Sarfraz Ahmed opting out of the 21-day tournament. Shahid Afridi, however, is looking at the positive side of things and praised the event for bringing cricket back to Sri Lanka.

“I won’t like to comment on the pull-outs, but it is indeed important to make a start. The game of cricket was stopped for a while following the pandemic outbreak. However, we have seen that people are adapting to the new normal and have successfully organised sporting events with all necessary precautions in place.

“Hats off to the Sri Lankan government, the Sri Lankan Cricket [SLC] board and the Innovative Production Group [IPG] for putting this event in place. I am sure it was difficult, but that was the right thing to do for the fans, the game and for the people of Sri Lanka,” Shahid Afridi added.

The Galle Gladiators are currently last in the points table after losing all three matches. Shahid Afridi has scored 70 runs so far, including a blitzkrieg 58 off 23 balls in their opening fixture against the Jaffna Stallions.

Indian and Pakistani players playing IPL and PSL will be a ‘really big step’, feels Shahid Afridi

Shahid Afridi is the second-highest wicket-taker in T20I with 98 scalps in 99 games
Shahid Afridi is the second-highest wicket-taker in T20I with 98 scalps in 99 games

Wasim Akram recently expressed interest in seeing Indian and Pakistani players participating both in the Indian Premier League (IPL) and Pakistan Super League (PSL).

Shahid Afridi, who represented the erstwhile Deccan Chargers in IPL 2008, also voiced a similar opinion.

“I completely agree to what Wasim bhai said, and that must be the sentiment of many on either side of the border. It will be a really big step forward for cricket and cricketers of both countries if that happens,” Afridi reasoned.

Shahid Afridi scored 81 runs at a phenomenal strike rate of 176.09 and picked up 9 wickets at an economy of 7.5 in the inaugural edition of the IPL. The leg-spinner recalled fond memories from the showpiece event, which saw DC finish last with 12 losses.

“Oh yes! I have some good memories of that time, played for Deccan Chargers and we had a good team back then. Adam Gilchrist was the captain and there was VVS Laxman, Rohit Sharma and Andrew Symonds. But for some reason we couldn’t live up to the expectations of the fans in that season,” Shahid Afridi, who scored 11,196 runs and took 541 wickets, concluded.

Shahid Afridi would now want to turn things around for the Galle Gladiators, and add another feather to his already-congested cap.