For the casual fan, it was perfect. Two early wickets up top, and Shaheen had given Pakistan the right start. But for someone like a Misbah ul Haq (check his Cricinfo video), it was a poor start. Shaheen, who had too short in earlier games, was now erring on the fuller side.
Afghanistan in the initial overs had taken advantage, hitting boundaries of overpitched balls. Or in gali cricket’s lingo ‘mou ke ball’. Still, you bring in more modes of dismissal when you are full, rather than when erring on the short side.
Shaheen’s 1st wicket could qualify was a wide, almost half volley. It didn’t deserve a wicket. But he got one. The 2nd wicket ball was also heading towards leg stump. On a slow wicket, top edge brought about a wicket. In cricket, like life, you can get lucky on time. The hatrick ball, he again snuck down the leg side. It was poor bowling.
In the 2nd spell, with Afghanistan edging closer towards an excellent total on the wicket, Shaheen brought Pakistan back into the game with dual wickets. Both Najibullah Zadran and Rashid Khan were capable of taking Afghanistan beyond 240. Now, in his 3rd spell, Shaheen brought his length back, but still, it was full enough. After having hit Shaheen for a boundary on the off side, Najeeb wanted to play it over extra cover. But Shaheen pitched it up a little bit and with the angle, it cramped the left-hander. Inside edge and a bowled. But Rashid’s wicket was the one which showed how quickly Shaheen had adapted. The slower ball stuck in the pitch and made Rashid Khan look like an amateur. With his height, when the pitch is sluggish, the slower ball would be very effective.
Perhaps, it was the captain, a senior player or coaching team which put across this message. Or it was Shaheen himself who realized this. But to be able to understand, adapt and execute the plan showed temperament and willingness to learn. Bodes well for him and for Pakistan.