Opener Sharjeel Khan, who has been recalled in the Pakistan team after 4 years, says that he is working hard on his fitness which was a major talking point after his name was announced in the T20 squad for the tours of South Africa and Zimbabwe next month.
Sharjeel Khan returned to the domestic circuit last year after serving a 24-month ban for his role in the 2017 PSL spot-fixing scandal.
He was in superb form during the curtailed PSL 2021. Before the tournament came to an abrupt halt, he was the third-highest scorer behind Mohammad Rizwan and Babar Azam, but his strike rate of 170.94 was better than the other two.
The left-hander has been given a 3-week target by team management to enhance his endurance levels as well as to improve his body fat counts before the first T20I against South Africa on April 10th. Although this is not an official criterion for Sharjeel Khan to clear in order to make it into the eleven, however, the 31-year-old is determined to become fitter.
“There is no major issue regarding my fitness as I have been playing the entire domestic season. I have played eight first-class matches, 11 T20s, five PSL games and seven one-days in Pakistan Cup. I have not left any match because of my fitness,” Sharjeel Khan said in a virtual press conference on Tuesday.
“Every player has different level of fitness and has a different requirement of fitness. I am following the fitness plan that has given to me by the Pakistan team management, so that I meet the required level. I’m running 15 km per day. There is no added pressure of fitness on me. Apart from fitness, I am also working on improving my skills,” Sharjeel Khan added.
Sharjeel Khan’s fitness isn’t great but his form right now can help us – Babar Azam
Captain of the Pakistan team, Babar Azam, who observed Sharjeel from close quarters in the PSL while playing together for Karachi Kings, acknowledges that the opener is not a fit player, however, he is a match-winner with the bat. Azam reckons Sharjeel Khan, despite his shortcomings physically, can be played in T20 cricket.
“He can’t be Shadab [Khan] at once but still you need to carry him. I agree his fitness isn’t great but we will bring him up to the mark. His form right now can help us and he is one of the best openers.
“I have played with him in Karachi Kings and he can take away the pressure and totally change the game. We are working on his fitness and you will see a difference. I never asked for him in ODIs but for T20 cricket, which is a short format, you can adjust,” Babar Azam was quoted by ESPNcricinfo as saying.