PSL 2022: Shahnawaz Dahani shares his cricketing journey and targets for PSL 7

'I am thankful to all the fans and people of Pakistan who've sent me their unconditional love and support' Dahani says

January 23, 2022
Shahnawaz Dhani (R) celebrates after taking a wicket. Photo Source: Twitter

KARACHI: Shahnawaz Dahani was a lesser-known name exactly a year ago as he was struggling to impress selectors with his performances in the domestic team and had yet to appear on the country's biggest cricketing stage – the Pakistan Super League (PSL).

Then came the dream moment, donning Multan's jersey, Shahnawaz Dahani went to impress everyone with his performance and unmatched energy on-field during PSL 2021 and was soon picked by the selectors for Pakistan's squad.

Since then, a lot has changed for Dahani. But, the guy himself is unchanged. The boy from Larkana is still the same smiling, humble, energetic, and jolly.

In an exclusive interview with Geo News, ahead of PSL 2022, Shahnawaz Dahani spoke about his journey in the last year, his future plans, and some interesting stories of new friends he made.

'I am still the same Dahani'

Dahani said that a lot has changed for him in the last year, he is a much-improved bowler and has learned a lot after coming to Pakistan's dressing room. But one thing that hasn't changed for him is his humbleness.

"I am still the same Dahani as far as my attitude is concerned and I will always remain the same, the same how I was when I came from the village, this is natural for me and this will always stay with me," he said.

"I am thankful to all the fans and people of Pakistan who've sent me their unconditional love and support since I appeared on mainstream cricket," the fast bowler said.

He mentioned how he still spends time with his childhood friends to recollect, and sometimes reconstruct, childhood memories.

"The memories of playing barefoot in the village, jumping in the pool to find the ball, collecting Guava from farms… these are the memories that will always remain with me, whenever I go back to the village, I spend time with my friends to recall them," he said.

"My friends are coming to see me in PSL this time," he mentioned.

Dahani said that staying with PSL and Pakistan team taught him a lot, especially taught him about how to learn from others and how to improve bowling.

Targets for PSL 7

Shahnawaz Dahani was declared best bowler of PSL 2021 after he took 20 wickets – the most by any bowler – in the season and helped Multan Sultans win the title for the first time.

This year, he aims to repeat the show.

"I am really excited for the PSL7, the closer it getting, my excitement is increasing, I can't wait to be on field again. I am preparing myself for the event and even in room isolation, I've been training to keep myself fit," he said.

"My aim is to become the leading bowler once again. I took 20 wickets last year. This time, I am eyeing to take more than 25 wickets to break Hasan Ali's record of most wickets in any PSL season. But, main goal is to help Multan win the trophy again," he said.

The fast bowler added that he’s aware that batters have now become familiar to the conditions available in Pakistan and they know what to expect so he has worked on something to surprise them and he's ready with his new strategy.

"I have something new, for sure," he said with his signature smile on the face.

"There's strategy of how to bowl against local and how to bowl against foreign batters, I’ve worked on all," Dahani said.

The fast bowler who was praised for his telephone-ringing celebration last year, said that while he would repeat the old signature style, there's something new as well.

"You will see when I take my first wicket in this edition of PSL, you'll definitely enjoy that," Dahani said.

Imran Tahir's secret and Carlos Brathwaite 'bhai'

Dahani said that he became very good friends with Carlos Brathwaite last year, and the West Indian cricketer became a big-brother figure for him.

"Even when PSL ended, he stayed in touch with me and when I was in West Indies he called me and did look after me, he's a gem of a person and I am surely going to miss him in Multan's dressing room this season," he said.

There are other cricketers as well, like Imran Tahir, Rile Rissouw and Blessing Muzarabani who Dahani considers as his mentors.

"I spend memorable times with all of them, especially with Imran Tahir who is also like a brother to me and also a jolly character as I am," he said.

Dahani recalled how Imran Tahir surprised him by speaking to him fluently in the Sindhi language and then told him he belonged to a place near Dahani's hometown.

"When he (Imran Tahir) came to me and started talking to me in Sindhi, I was shocked and surprised, then he told me that his roots are in Sukkur and later his family moved to Lahore and then shifted to South Africa," the fast bowler said about the former South African cricketer.

'Foreign minister' title and meeting with Dhoni

The 23-year-old bowler was named as traveling reserve by Pakistani selectors for ICC T20 World Cup in Dubai, the fast bowler didn't play a match and didn't bowl a single delivery but still won many hearts with her off the field activities.

His pictures of meeting players of different teams went viral on social media and fans started calling him the Pakistan Cricket team's "foreign minister" during the world cup.

While the fans were eager to see him in World Cup, Dahani said he was happy even to be in the dressing room.

"It was something big for me, to be in the dressing room of Pakistan team during a World Cup was a big moment for me and it allowed me to learn a lot of things and meet a lot of players from all over the world," he said.

"I also worked with the bowling consultant on nets which helped me improve my skills," he said.

Dahani said that he was excited to meet some of the top players from around the world and termed meeting India's MS Dhoni as something very special.

"We used to watch Dhoni on TV or hear about him on the Radio in the village, to see him standing in front of me was a big moment for me. At first, I was speechless, I didn't know what to say but then I gathered confidence and talked to him," Dahani recalled.

"I asked him how have you managed yourself to be so fit at this stage on which he replied that one has to do this all to survive in this sport, then Dhoni asked me if I was a playing member upon which I informed him that I am among reserves," Dahani said while adding that the former Indian captain boosted his confidence by saying that he shouldn't feel let down if he stays a reserve in the World Cup and instead feels that he is still among those few players, and that's why he was there and one day he would be bowling to likes of Virat Kohli.

Dahani said that he also enjoyed that foreign minister's title given to him by a fan during the world cup.

"I can't thank enough the fans for all the love. I will try that I never let them down with any of my actions," he promised.

Dahani said that what makes him feel more proud is that he has become a role model and a hope for cricketers in rural Sindh.

"I tell you one incident, a few days back a family came to meet me, they brought a cake for me. There was a young kid with them, few days back the same kid got selected for U13 and he was chanting 'main Shahnawaz Dahani ban gayya' after being picked. This makes me feel so good. The child is a batter, yet he finds Shahnawaz Dahani – a bowler, as a role model, this is something a great feeling" the 23-year-old mentioned.

Faizan Lakhani is Deputy Editor (Sports) at Geo News.