Shadab Khan is a Pakistani cricketer widely regarded as the modern-day player who can deceive the batter with his sharp accuracy and smartness. He is more of a leg-spinner who bowls with higher trajectories and creates an angle that can force a batter to play a tempting shot and end up losing his wicket. Plus, he is also an effective lower-order batter with a nice range of shots. In September 2021, he was made the deputy for Babar Azam for the 2021 ICC Men’s T20 World Cup to be held in England & Wales.
Shadab Khan was born on Sunday, 4 April 1998 (age 23 years; as of 2021) in Mianwali (Northwest Punjab), Pakistan. He grew up in his hometown where his passion for cricket was instilled from his childhood. During his initial days, he played cricket on rough pitches in his village near a bank of the Indus River in Punjab Province. He cultivated his talent from thereon and soon started playing club cricket when his family shifted to Rawalpindi in 2012. After years of hard struggle, he finally made it to a Pakistan National Team at the tender age of 19 under the captaincy of Sarfraz Ahmed.
Height (approx.): 5′ 8″
Weight (approx.): 65 kg
Hair Colour: Dark Brown
Eye Colour: Hazel Brown
Shadab Khan belongs to Islam Family. He belongs to a member of the Pashto-speaking people of Afghanistan. Pashtuns are the community having its vast majority in the plains of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP).
Parents & Siblings
Shadab Khan’s father is a farmer while his mother is a housewife. His elder sibling Mehtab Khan is also a domestic-level cricketer.
A Dubai-based woman, Ashreena Safia accused Shadab of blackmailing her on Instagram. She said that the young cricketer will expose her offensive photos if she opens up about his relationship with the public. She further wrote on an Instagram post that
“YES I see all the messages you guys send and it is very hard for me to accept but here we are. This is personal/vulnerable for me to share but I have a platform Alhamdulillah to do right. I’m sorry to all the girls who reached out for help when they were used and taken advantage of by the person I was with. Astaghfirullah that I believed his lies and unconsciously enabled his behavior. I have zero to gain from posting this but if I can help one girl become aware then I’m willing to jeopardize myself. I’ve been dealing with this since I moved to Dubai. Shadab is probably the first guy I’ve cared about so deeply and it’s hard to process this still. I cant address anything further for legal reasons so please respect my privacy.” The Week
During his initial days, he played domestic cricket at the Under-17 level. From thereon, he realized that he can play for his country someday. Some of his prolific all-round performances in the Under-19 Cricket World Cup 2017 saw him bagged a place in a Pakistan National Side. But it was not all that easy. During his return after playing a domestic game, his brother called him and told him that he got selected in the star-studded Islamabad United side for the PSL 2017. He gets to play with some of Pakistan’s greats like Saeed Ajmal and Misbah-ul-Haq. The team was to be coached by the late Dean Jones.
He ripped off the opponent’s batting lineup with his economic spell, dismissing Kumar Sangakkara and Eoin Morgan in his spell of four overs. He was constantly knocking on the doors of the National side with his consistent performances. But for this, he needs to wait for another few months. He was soon made the captain of Islamabad United.
All his patience and hard work paid off when he got selected for the West Indies Tour in March 2017. He stepped onto the international field for the very first time against West Indies at Kensington Oval in Barbados on 26 March 2017. It was a T20 game. He managed to pick up the important wickets of Lendl Simmons and Sunil Narine with an impressive economic rate. Interestingly, he took the three wickets in the first eight balls of his first spell in international cricket. Pakistan not only won that match but also sealed the series 2-1. In the end, Shadab stole the show, when he achieved a record feat of winning the Man of the Series Award in his debut T20I tournament.
Late Dean Jones remarked on his splendid performance by saying that
“The very first time Akram and I saw Shadab in the nets, we looked at each other and said, ‘this boy is pure gold. He is an interesting player to coach and I have said this before as well, that for an 18-year-old-kid he has the head of a 30-year-old on him. He has pretty much hit the ground running and yes, he will get whacked a few times in his career but Pakistan has something special there.He did come in with a few technical difficulties with his action and run-up, and we helped him with it during the PSL. We spoke with him about, and gave examples of Shane Warne, whom he admires a lot. We also mentioned the technique of Mushtaq Ahmed to him as well. Then we also brought up the name of Stuart MacGill to show him how all of these spinners got close to the crease.”
He soon made an ODI debut against the same side on 7 April 2017 at Providence Cricket Ground in Guyana. He took the crucial wickets of their wicketkeeper Shai Hope and captain Jason Holder. But unfortunately, his team lost by four wickets despite posting 308 runs on the board. On 30 April 2017, he made his test debut against the same side at Kensington Oval in Barbados. West Indies scored 312 runs in their first innings. In reply, Pakistan made 393 runs and lead by 81 runs. Shadab Khan scored 16 runs. West Indies then gave 188 runs target in their second inning. Pakistan started crumbling under pressure right from the beginning and got all out for merely 81 runs. Shadab failed to rattle the West Indies batting order and managed to take just one wicket in his 40 overs. Former convenor of selectors Iqbal Qasim reacted to his performance by saying
The 18-year-old proved ineffective on a pitch tailor-made for a spin, managing a single wicket from 40 overs as Pakistan collapsed to a 106-run defeat on the final day at Kensington Oval. [Misbah-ul-Haq] didn’t do any favour to youngster Shadab by including him straight into the Test squad. It also put extra pressure on Yasir Shah, but thanks to Almighty, Yasir performed exceptionally and didn’t take the pressure, otherwise, if there was any other bowler, he would have also suffered.”
He further added
“It was important to properly nurture Shadab and keeping him out of the longest format for the moment was perhaps best for the player. Shadab has just started his international career and it was too early to induct him in the longer version of the game. Let Shadab [be] with the team, provide him exposure and let him play T20 and ODIs for the time being, as it will help him as well as the team. He is the future of Pakistan cricket and he is bound to excel but only with proper training and exposure, which will turn him into the best in the business.”
On 26 April 2017, a team for the Champions Trophy 2017 was announced. Sarfraz Ahmed was made the Captain of the national side. Due to an inconsistent performance 35-year old veteran wicketkeeper, Kamran Akmal was dropped. In walks the young Shadab Khan. Pakistan was being considered as the underdog for the tournament. The big reasons were their low level of fitness, lack of ability to perform under pressure, and their poor match results since 2015 CWC.
The first team they need to face is their fierce opposition India. It was a tough challenge to beat the World’s number three side comprising of star players like Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, and Yuvraj Singh. India scored 319 runs in a reduced 48 overs. In reply, Pakistan could only manage 164 runs. Though Shadab fought hard to bring the team on track with his batting ability but it all ended in vain. The road to the trophy was getting tougher for Pakistan.
They went on to win both their group stage matches convincingly and was eventually qualified for the semis where they would face tough rivals England. Batting first, England was on one stage 80/2 when the skipper Eoin Morgan joined the crease along with Joe Root. They managed to put 48 runs partnership and began building a solid platform. But then, Shadab Khan came in the 28th over. The third delivery of the over proved fatal for Morgan when he tried to play the switch hit against the flighted delivery. The ball bounced in the air and went into the wicket-keeper’s gloves. Shadab was celebrating as it was a moment that turned the table for Pakistan, and the score that was once looking close to 300 runs; was eventually restricted to 211 runs.
Pakistan has reached its maiden Champion Trophy Finals. Yet again, they will be facing India. Having lost their first game, Pakistan was low in confidence. But overall, they have nothing to lose looking at the past instances between the two sides where India has got the upper hand.
Having got the best batting lineup in the world, looking at the pitch conditions, India decided to field first. Then it was all Pakistan’s show when they put on the mammoth 338 runs on the board. Opener Fakhar Jaman chipped in with a century. In reply, India was crumbling with 33 for 3 in their first nine overs. In walks the Yuvraj Singh. His record against Pakistan is excellent in limited-overs. He started his innings without taking any risks. Sarfraz then decided to hand over the ball to the young leg-spinner Shadab Khan in the 13th over. He bowled the first five balls without giving too many runs. The last delivery proved detrimental for Yuvraj when he tried to defend the ball. The ball turned sharply and hit the batter’s front leg. Shadab appealed for LBW but was turned down by the umpire. So, he decided to review it, and ultimately, it was a success and Pakistan has got the danger man.
He then took the key wicket of Kedar Jadhav in the 17th over. Kedar Jadhav tried to pull the short ball, but as the ball went in the air, the wicketkeeper called for it and took the catch. The match is all in Pakistan’s hands. In the end, they won it comprehensively and bagged their third ICC title after the 1992 World Cup and T20 World Cup in 2009. Shadab was slowly evolving as a hero. He became the youngest to win an ICC ODI tournament finals at the age of 18 years and 257 days.
— Fahad Mustafa (@fahadmustafa26) June 18, 2017
In October 2017, Shadab scored his first ODI fifty against Sri Lanka. Slowly and steadily, he was getting transformed. He soon joined Hong Kong Island United for the HKT20 blitz the next season as a vice-captain. Then came the 2018 Asia Cup where six Asian teams will be locking horns against each other.
Before the tournament, India’s former spinner Siva Rama Krishnan termed Shadab as the trump card for Pakistan. He further added that
Historically, Pakistan has had a strong bowling attack, and it’s no different this time around. Mohammad Amir bowls well with the new ball and is dangerous with the old, while I will follow the exploits of leggie Shadab Khan with obvious interest.
Their first match was against Hong Kong. Hong Kong was batting first. They started off nicely. Then in the fifth over, the batter misjudged a single, and Shadab hit the direct throw towards the stumps. Their batting started collapsing and then Shadab was given the 17th over. He didn’t disappoint his captain when in the very first ball, Babar Hayat tried to play a lofted shot going down the crease, but was dribbled with googly and missed the ball. The rest of the work was done by the keeper. Two balls later, Batter was adjudged LBW by the umpire against a googly. Moment of joy for Pakistan as Shadab took two wickets in an over. Pakistan won their opening match.
Their next game was against India. Pakistan was batting first and on one stage they were 211 for 6. Then came Shadab who held the nerves for the team with his 23 runs partnership with Mohammad Nawaz. He was later bowled by Jasprit Bumrah in the 50th over and Pakistan could manage only 237 runs. This score was looking below par looking at India’s lineup. And rightly so, India easily chased the target in the 40th overs losing just one wicket. Shadab was gone wicketless and conceded 54 runs in his eight overs. Pakistan’s veteran spinner Saeed Ajmal strongly reacted to that loss by Pakistan by saying that
“Mohammad Nawaz and Shadab Khan should be playing together as spin is the way to go. Secondly, the bowlers need the support of the batter and Pakistan must score 250 plus as all the teams have managed to do that when it comes to winning games. In this case, they must also remember that India chase really well and if they cannot put at least 250 on the board, the Pakistan bowlers will not have much to do. They should fight till the end and make this a contest that shall be remembered for ages.”
In that match, Shadab suffered from a slight injury and was omitted from the next game. Though, Pakistan won this match with ease. This time again, India will be on their rival. Pakistan after being batted first has put on 162 runs on the board. The score was meager so it was all in Pakistan’s bowling lineup to defend the total. And they failed to do so when India put on 86 runs for the opening wicket. They went on to win this match in the 29th over. All the bowlers failed except Shadab who took an important wicket of Rohit in the 14th over. Rohit thought it was a leg-break and took a long stride forward to defend it, but the ball turned another way and knock off its stumps after piercing between his bat and pad. India went on to win the final of the tournament beating Bangladesh in a close game.
In April 2018, Pakistan defeated the Caribbeans in a T20 home series where Shadab was once again impressive with his fine all-round skills. Pakistan then toured England and played their practice game against Northamptonshire where Shadab rattled both their innings with his fine bowling spell of ten wickets and conceded 157 runs in the match. Within a short span of his career, he is already been compared with spin greats like Abdul Qadir, Mushtaq Ahmed, Shahid Afridi, and Yasir Shah.
During the series, he rather impressed everyone with his batting ability when he scored two fifties in two test matches and helped the Pakistani side to end the series in a draw. He was equally impressive with a ball, claiming three wickets, which include their star batter Alastair Cook. While giving an interview, he talked about his cricket journey by saying that
“It’s been an incredible journey so far. From making my international debut against the West Indies to becoming a member of the Champions Trophy winning squad has been a wonderful experience and all I can do is to thank the almighty for his blessings. I understand that this is just the beginning of my career and I am focused on trying to improve myself every time I play and hopefully the results of that improvement will be visible in the future.”
He further stated
“I know that I have been picked in the squad to replace Yasir Shah and I am aware that I can never match the performances he has put in for Pakistan over the years, but what I can promise is that I will do what it takes to help my side to win on this tour. A lot of work has been done with me on my bowling before we came over to England with Mushtaq Ahmed giving me special advice and now all the coaches including Azhar Mahmood are here to help me to fine-tune my skills for the important task ahead.”
He then took five wickets in the concluded T20 series. With that, he became the 2nd rank T20I bowler in the world only behind Rashid Khan. In October 2018, he played a T20 series against Australia where he scalped their star batter Glenn Maxwell, Chris Lynn, and Mitchell Marsh; helping Pakistan to whitewash the visitors for the first time in a limited-over format. He was splendid during the field when he took the fine one-handed catch of Chris Lynn by diving towards his right.
Then came the ODI series against New Zealand where Shadab took three wickets in four deliveries in the 42nd over. Pakistan though lost that series but managed to whitewash the Kiwis in the T20s. On 18 April 2019, the team for the ICC World Cup was announced where Shadab Khan was picked as the only leg-spinner in the squad. Unfortunately, he was ruled out from the limited-over series against England ahead of the World Cup due to a mild illness. But later it was revealed that Shadab was diagnosed with Hepatitis C. Aghast by this situation, he said
“When you suddenly get to know that you have a viral [infection] in your blood, naturally I got frustrated but my team-mates and friends have been very supportive. I have a strong belief that whatever happens, happens for a reason and for good. I was tensed up on the first day but then I told my friends that whatever happened was in the past. If anything good is to happen, it will happen. So I asked them to avoid talking to me about it.”
He was then treated by London-based hepatology specialists who prescribed him two weeks of complete rest. Soon, Shadab was declared fit for the World Cup and will be in the 15-man’s squad for the mega-event starting on 30 May 2019. Elated with his inclusion, he said
“I was always hopeful because the viral infection was found at its initial stage. With two weeks of medication, it’s out of my blood. Now I am heading to the World Cup. We [Pakistan] have been going there [to England] regularly over the last three years so it isn’t really difficult to acclimatize. All I have to do is to get in my rhythm otherwise I am mentally prepared for the challenge.”
The team lost their first match against West Indies but came back strongly in the next match where Shadab scalped their key batters Jason Roy and Joe Root in a matter of few deliveries. Pakistan won that match by 14 runs. The next match was against Sri Lanka which got abandoned due to rain. Shadab was then rested for the next game against Australia. Unfortunately, the team lost that match by 41 runs. Since the 1975 World Cup, Pakistan has never won an ICC match against India. Yet again, they lost by 89 runs (DLS method) where Shadab was gone wicketless. Pakistan then came back strongly when they won their next match comprehensively after putting 308 runs on the board against South Africa. Shadab scalped his 50th ODI victim in a form of Quinton De Kock. He also took the wicket of Aiden Markram and Rassie Van Der Dussen in that match.
However, Pakistan could not continue its journey further, though they won against New Zealand, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh in the remaining matches. Shadab could only manage three wickets in the remaining games. Interestingly, New Zealand whom they defeated went on to win the ICC World Cup title 2019.
Shadab’s performance in the whole series was good. In 2017, Shadab made his Test debut. Till then, he could only manage 12 wickets in five test matches. This stat was clearly haunting him. His next aim was to cement his place on the national side as an all-rounder. Talking to the media in the pre-season training camp at the National Cricket Academy (NCA) in Lahore, he said
“I have played a good number of white-ball matches and just five Tests. Therefore, I need to bring improvement in my bowling and batting to cement my place in Test cricket too, as a useful all-rounder.”
Explaining the relevance of batting & bowling in the test format, he further added that
“I really need to improve in batting and I am doing a lot of efforts through personal training and batting to bring significant improvement in my batting to be a useful part of the team. It is very imperative in today’s competitive cricket to be a fine all-rounder to support the team with batting and bowling.”
Next up was the Pakistan tour of Australia that includes two tests and three T20Is. This time, he was picked for the Test series as well. Also, making his comeback to the international side after six years is the tallest cricketer in the world Mohammad Irfan (7-1 feet). This series was like a nightmare to Pakistan when they got completely whitewashed by the hosts in both tests and T20s. Though, Pakistan won their practice game against Australia XI where Shadab took three wickets. On 22 June 2020, ahead of the England tour, the news came from the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) that Shadab Khan along with speedster Haris Rauf and Haider Ali was tested positive for the COVID-19. Though, in Shadab’s report, there was no sign of symptoms so he was sent for self-isolation. Two months later, he came back to the T20 squad against the same side and took his 50th wicket in a form of Moeen Ali for 8.
He was made the captain of the T20 side due to the absence of Babar Azam against New Zealand in December 2020. The team lost the series yet again by 2-1, but Shadab was impressive with the bat when he scored 42 runs off 32 balls in the first T20I game.
But during the last T20 game at Napier, Shadab suffered from a thigh injury as a result, he was ruled out from the test series as well. Their doctor Sohail Saleem informed that
“After the competition of the six-week period, the medical panel will access and evaluate the injury before making a call on Shadab’s return to competitive cricket.”
He was later left out of the South African series as well comprising of two test matches and three T20Is. Soon, he passed the fitness test and returned to the squad for the ODI series in April 2021 against South Africa. In his very first match, he scored valuable 33 runs and took his side to a victory by three wickets.
Again in the second ODI, Shadab suffered from a toe injury during fielding. He was also ruled out from the T20 series against Zimbabwe starting on 21 April 2021. He soon returned to the squad against England in the ODI series where his team got whitewashed and suffered a 2-1 loss in the T20Is. The only T20 which they won, Shadab took three crucial wickets of Jason Roy, L Gregory, and the centurion Liam Livingston. He couldn’t perform much with a bat. This rose to criticism by former Pakistan’s cricketer Ramiz Raja. He said
“I don’t understand Shadab’s batting. What is his role when he comes out to bat? Is he a savior or a power hitter? Today he could have played easily because they had a lot of overs in the bank. But generally, his batting is going through a rusty period. He should have a profile like Hardik Pandya. He is a power hitter who scores quick fifties. Shadab’s power-hitting has completely gone missing which is saddening because he is so young. This should be his peak time. But we don’t see that kind of batting from him and he needs a lot of work. In this batting lineup, Shadab has more value as a power hitter.”
In August 2021, he was left out from the national side against the West Indies in Test matches. However, Pakistan could manage a series draw. He returned to the T2o side a few days later where Pakistan could only win one T20 out of the three matches as the rest of the matches were washed out due to rain. One month later, the Pakistani squad was announced for the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2021 to begin from 17 October to 14 November where Shadab was picked as a vice-captain.
On 2nd April 2018, he fell into a major controversy when during a T20 match against the West Indies in Karachi, he knock off their opening batter Chadwick Walton’s stumps, and while he was departing, Shadab showed him the way of the dressing room and made an inappropriate remark. David Boon the match referee fined him with twenty percent of the match fees. However, Shadab later admitted his mistake and apologized for his misbehavior. Though, Pakistan won this match by 80 runs.
Awards, Honours, Achievements
PCB emerging player of the year 2017
- Cricketers (Batters)- Steve Smith and Kane Williamson
- Cricketers (Bowlers)- Shane Warne and Josh Hazlewood
- Cricket Ground– Kensington Oval (Barbados)
- Sport– Football
- Football club– Real Madrid
- Food– Achar Gosht
- Film– Bol
- Singer– Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan
- Song– Dillagi by Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan
- Holiday Destination– New Zealand
- Once, his friend revealed about him that
“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 was so interested in batting that at one time he quit bowling. 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.”
- Right from childhood, he wanted to be a fast bowler than a leggie. In an interview with BBC Urdu, he told that
“I started off as a fast bowler during the initial phase of my club cricket. However, my club president urged me to become a leg spinner and that’s how I switched to leg-spin.”
- During a PSL 2017, he came across his idol Steve Smith in a Dubai hotel. However, he could not speak anything. Recalling that time, he said
“I didn’t know what to talk to him as I was lost in his coolness. By the time I could realize it, the lift ride was over and he walked away, and that’s it. But I want him to recognize me one day.”
- In June 2018, Shadab expressed his desire to become the world’s best bowler. He said
“I will be aiming to showcase my spin talent in the best possible way during these two events to claim world number one bowling status.”
- During a Twitter battle, one of the fans asked him regarding the toughest batter and bowler to bowl and face in his entire life. To which he replied Rohit Sharma and Lockie Ferguson. He revealed that the first match against India in the Champions Trophy 2017 is the most nervous moment in his life while the wicket of Yuvraj in the Champions Trophy final is his best moment ever. Brian Lara is his favorite among past cricketers.
Meri kahani, highs and lows of my life and career.
Full video on @IsbUnited’s Youtube
— Shadab Khan (@76Shadabkhan) June 8, 2021
- During the Asia Cup 2023 match between India and Pakistan, Shadab tied Hardik Pandya’s shoelaces. This moment was captured in a photo that went viral on the internet and was loved by many fans. Many of them expressed that this act of sportsmanship was what truly won the match in their hearts.