Shadab Khan’s journey — From village cricket to World Cup

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Arelentless training routine and “unparalleled’ commitment have taken Pakistan leg-spinner Shadab Khan from club cricket in his remote village to the World Cup in just a few short years. The 20-year-old, already third in the WT20 bowling rankings, has caught the eye of none other than Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan — who led Pakistan to their only World Cup win in 1992. But when the prime minister singled out Shadab during a meeting with the team before they flew to England, it came as no surprise to the coaches and players who know him. They credit his heady rise to a tireless work ethic including pre-dawn starts to fit in maximum practice.

“Shadab’s commitment to cricket is unparalleled,” said his former club coach Sajjad Ahmed. “He sleeps around 9:00 pm and reaches the ground before sunrise. That’s been his routine for years so that he can practice as much as possible.” Shadab grew up playing cricket on the rough pitches of Mianwali district — a farming community near the banks of the Indus River in Punjab province — which is also home to Prime Minister Khan and fellow Pakistan Test player Misbah-ul-Haq. In between swimming in the myriad canals bisecting the fertile fields in his hometown, Shadab spent hours on the cricket pitch daily, where he developed his signature leg-breaks and love for batting. “Shadab was so interested in batting that at one time he quit bowling,” said Ahmed. “But I advised him to consider becoming an all-rounder, then he would have a better chance to play top-level cricket and he complied.”

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