PCB: Shahzaib Khan aiming to go big at the ICC U19 World Cup

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Photo Credit: Pakistan Cricket Board

Hailing from the city of Mansehra in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Shahzaib Khan will be crucial to Pakistan’s success in the ICC U19 World Cup in South Africa. Featuring in his maiden World Cup, Shahzaib will be shouldering the responsibility of opening for Pakistan. Taking inspiration from Saeed Anwar, the left-handed batter wants to serve Pakistan cricket by going big where it matters.

Shahzaib’s brothers – who were avid players of tape-ball cricket – shaped his love for the game. Watching his brothers in action motivated Shahzaib to pick up the sport too. Much like his brothers and many others in Pakistan, he too started with tape-ball cricket opening the door for his progression.

While speaking to PCB Digital, Shahzaib said, “When I started playing cricket, I was really supported by my family. My brothers were already playing, so that helped my situation as well. I believe my journey became much easier just because of how much backing I had at the time.”

For Shahzaib as well, the dream has been to represent Pakistan in all three formats in the long run. Representing Pakistan at the ICC U19 World Cup is another stepping-stone for him. Adamant on pursuing the sport professionally, he joined Junaid Khan Cricket Academy in 2018. From there, Shahzaib went on to play regional U13 tournament in the same year, followed by National U16 and National U19 tournaments in 2021 and 2022, respectively.

His success in domestic cricket earned him a call-up to Pakistan U19 for the home series against Bangladesh U19 in November 2022. In the assignment in Bangladesh in May 2023, Shahzaib hit 174 in the solitary four-day game scheduled in the series. He recounts his valiant 174 as his favourite performance yet because of the tough conditions in Bangladesh. During the same tour, he compiled a century and two half-centuries in the one-day games.

He backed his performance by scoring important runs during Sri Lanka U19’s tour to Pakistan, including a century in the four-day game. In the ACC U19 Asia Cup, Shahzaib struck two consecutive half-centuries – against India U19 and Afghanistan U19 – to help his team qualify for the semi-finals.

Reflecting on his role for the World Cup, Shahzaib explained, “We won convincingly against India U19 in the Asia Cup because we performed really well as a unit. When you are batting at the top, you sometimes struggle at the start. Building an innings thus requires patience and that’s how I play because my role is to bat deep.”

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