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Pakistan Stars Shine in ILT20 as Shaheen and Amir Team Up for Vipers

Pakistan cricket fans were treated to a rare sight as Shaheen Shah Afridi and Mohammad Amir bowled in tandem for Desert Vipers in the International League T20 (ILT20) on Wednesday.

The two left-arm pacers, who have not played together for Pakistan since Amir’s retirement from international cricket in 2020, shared the new ball for the Vipers against Gulf Giants in Dubai.

Shaheen, who is the current T20I captain of Pakistan, made a stunning debut in the ILT20 after missing the first match due to national duty. He picked up three wickets for 22 runs in his four overs, including the prized scalp of Giants captain David Warner.

Amir, who has been playing in various T20 leagues around the world since quitting Pakistan cricket, also performed well with the ball. He took one wicket for 27 runs in his four overs, and bowled with good pace and control.

The Vipers won the match by six wickets, thanks to a brilliant knock of 81 not out by Colin Munro, who is also the captain of the team.

The Pakistan fans were ecstatic to see Shaheen and Amir bowling together, and expressed their joy on social media. Many of them hoped that Amir would reconsider his retirement and return to the national team, especially with the T20 World Cup later this year.

The Vipers have four Pakistan players in their squad, as Shaheen and Amir are joined by all-rounder Shadab Khan and wicket-keeper batsman Azam Khan. Shadab scored 28 runs and took one wicket in the match against the Giants. Azam, who is the son of former Pakistan captain Moin Khan, scored 15 runs and kept well behind the stumps.

The only other Pakistani player in the ILT20 is Imad Wasim, who is playing for Abu Dhabi Knight Riders. Imad, who is also an all-rounder and a former T20I captain of Pakistan, scored 18 runs and took two wickets in his team’s first match against Dubai Capitals on Tuesday.

The ILT20 is a new T20 league that features six teams and some of the best players from around the world. Each team can have up to nine international players in their playing XI, making the competition very tough and exciting.

Shaheen and Amir praised the quality of the ILT20 in a recent podcast, and said that it was a great opportunity for them to learn and improve their skills.

“I think this is the toughest competition, because in other leagues across the globe, you have more local players than international players,” said Shadab, who also joined the podcast.

“But in this league, you have nine international players so this means, in reality, you are playing an international game. It is very difficult so, competition-wise, this is really tough and you are playing against the best of the world.”

Amir added: "As Shadab said there are nine international players competing against one another and it is fun for me and a learning process.

“You learn every single day and, in the days to come, this is going to be a tough competition. In this league you have to be on your toes, and there is no margin of error.”

One of the unique features of the ILT20 is the use of the “Super Sub”, which allows teams to replace a player with another one at any stage of the match. Some experts have suggested that this rule could reduce the value of all-rounders in the format, as teams could opt for more specialists with either bat or ball.

However, Shadab disagreed with this view, and said that all-rounders still had a vital role to play in T20 cricket.

“As an allrounder, you have three chances to perform, either as a batter, a bowler or a fielder,” he said. "So, I don’t think (the all-rounder is under threat).

“In fact, it is tougher on someone who is only a bowler or a batter.”

Amir, who has been working on his batting skills, joked: “This is why I am working on my batting.”

The ILT20 started on Friday in Sharjah and will conclude on February 17. The six teams are Abu Dhabi Knight Riders, Desert Vipers, Dubai Capitals, Gulf Giants, MI Emirates, and Sharjah Warriors. The top four teams will qualify for the playoffs, which will follow the same format as the Indian Premier League (IPL).

The ILT20 is expected to provide a good platform for the Pakistan players to prepare for the upcoming T20 World Cup, which will be held in USA and West Indies in June. Pakistan are placed in Group A, along with India, USA, Canada, and Ireland.

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