While the Pakistan under-19 team may have fallen short in the ICC u-19 World Cup earlier this year, it did give evidence of the talent pool that Pakistan possesses. Among the stars for the team in that tournament was the young leg spinner, Shadab Khan.
Shadab finished the tournament as Pakistan's highest wicket taker, and by the final match was being used as a pinch hitter by the team as they got to know of his abilities. At that stage he hadn't played a single senior match - in First Class, List A or T20 cricket - but his talent was there for all to see.
Originally hailing from Mianwali Shadab has quickly become the mainstay of the Rawalpindi team in domestic cricket, and has even graduated to the Pakistan A team. His most impressive performance, nine wickets and a century against Zimbabwe A in only his fourth First Class match, coincided with the PSL Draft, and presented an audition that forced Islamabad United to select him.
With his first full domestic season in full swing and a PSL to follow Shadab islikely to turn a lot more heads over the coming months, and will hope that he follows in the footsteps of Rumman Raees and Amad Butt - both of whom were in the Emerging Category for Islamabad United in PSL 1, and both were selected for the national team within a year of the that tournament.
A phenom in the Pakistani under-19 circuit, Shadab Khan was selected by Islamabad United as their first emerging player for the draft for PSL 2, the seventh player picked up in the category that year. Within six months he had proven to be the outstanding Emerging Category player picked up in that draft.
The season before, he had finished the Regional Under-19 domestic one-day tournament with 32 wickets – 13 clear of his nearest rival – and had finished as Pakistan’s joint highest taking wicket taker in the 2016 Under-19 World Cup, despite carrying a back niggle.
Capable of turning the ball both ways, Shadab’s rise has been meteoric. Within twelve months of making his First Class debut he had played a key role in Pakistan’s win in the 2017 Champions Trophy. In his first calendar year in international cricket he finished as Pakistan’s 2nd highest wicket taker in ODIs, and their highest wicket taker in T20 internationals.
Still underrated as a batsman, Shadab has also become Pakistan’s primary hot-spot fielder, usually occupying the spot at backward point.
PSL 3 will be his second season with Islamabad United.