EXCLUSIVE | I’m a Big MS Dhoni Fan, He Told Me to Practice The Helicopter Shot a Lot – Mohammad Shahzad
Afghanistan wicketkeeper-batsman Mohammad Shahzad has long been someone who cricket fans around the world have been entertained by. His explosive batting style and theatrical celebrations make him must-see whenever he is out in the middle and his fearless approach means he is willing to do whatever it takes to score runs quickly. Indeed, it was his thirst for big hitting that led to him mastering the helicopter shot, an unorthodox shot popularised by former India skipper MS Dhoni. In a candid chat with CricketNext, Shahzad admitted to being a ‘big fan’ of Dhoni and also revealed a conversation the two of them had after he had successfully executed the shot against India in 2012.
“Yes I have moulded my game a lot on MS Dhoni, I am a big fan of him. I saw him play the helicopter shot once and I practiced it a lot before first playing it against India only in a T20I.
“He (Dhoni) even spoke to me after that game about practicing it a lot because it is a very difficult shot but I believe it is the best shot to play if you want to hit a yorker-length delivery for a six.”
Yet as entertaining as the 34-year-old Shahzad is on the field, his career has been dogged by off the field controversies.
He served a retroactive one-year suspension for ingesting the banned substance Clenbuterol in 2017 but it was the 2019 Cricket World Cup when things really took a turn for the worse.
Shahzad was replaced mid-way through the tournament due to an alleged knee injury but he stated on social media he was fully fit and questioned being replaced.
As a result, he was suspended and later banned from playing cricket by the Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB). And while the ban was eventually lifted, it did leave a lot of lingering animosity.
He last turned out for his country in an ODI against Sri Lanka in 2019 but he does remain hopeful of a return to the national side eventually.
“Difficulties always come your way. Whether or not you perform well there are things that remain beyond your control. As a cricketer, I’ve learnt to deal with this. I want to enjoy whatever cricket I play.
“I hope with all my heart to play for Afghanistan again and by the grace of God I will. There’s a series coming against Zimbabwe soon (March 2021) and I am ready whenever they call me.”
Shahzad was a key part in Afghanistan’s rise from promising Associate nation to full-fledged ICC member and, should he get the chance to, he wants to do his part to see them improve in Test cricket.
“I want that Afghanistan make more strides forward in Test cricket. Like we have improved in T20s and ODIs and now the next step is to do well in Test match cricket.”
For now, he is content plying his trade in cricket leagues around the world – including the Abu Dhabi T10 League, where he turned out for the Deccan Gladiators.
The ultra-short format is best suited to someone of Shahzad’s ilk – something he happily agrees with. “Playing T10 is a lot of fun. We have very little time out in the middle and you have to try and hit every ball, which suits my style.
“You’re not worried about losing your wicket so can bat freely. This has always been my style of play but it is even more fun here (in T10 cricket.”
Shahzad also wants to play in the Indian Premier League (IPL), a tournament he has never played in. With his name not in the auction list for the 2021 edition, he won’t fulfil the dream this year. But the dream remains alive.
“I would love to play in the IPL! As a cricketer I am keen to play in leagues all around the world. Now it only depends on whether franchises want me,” he signed off.