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Afridi hoping to reap rewards as Pakistan stars light up county game

M

iddlesex are already reaping the rewards of having Shaheen Shah Afridi in their attack, but the left-arm quick hopes the benefits will be mutual as he and a group of Pakistan team-mates take the county game by storm.

Afridi followed up four wickets in the win over Glamorgan last week with three more on the opening day against Leicestershire at Lord’s on Thursday.

He is one of 10 Pakistan players in county cricket, including Lancashire’s Hasan Ali, Yorkshire’s Haris Rauf and Shan Masood, who has already made two double-centuries for Derbyshire. They are frozen out of the Indian Premier League, but counties are reaping the benefits.

“I think, this year, I saw like nine or 10 players here and that’s good for Pakistan cricket,” he said.

“We have not played good cricket here as a team, so now I think the top guys are all there. So maybe it will be good for us [to get to know] the conditions and the pitches. Maybe this will help the national team as well.

“Actually, that’s a good sign for Pakistan cricket — the top cricketers are here. They perform really well, Hasan and Shan, and everyone performs really well — Haris — so it’s good for Pakistan cricket as well.

“I think playing anywhere in the world and playing in different conditions always improves your game.”

Afridi would have been excused had he wanted a rest after a gruelling series against Australia last month, but he said he was desperate to play as much as possible in as many different conditions as possible.

“I want to play cricket,” he said. “I’m young so I want to play and improve. I want to improve myself more and become stronger. So maybe when I’m back to national duty, maybe I’ll help [the team] more. I want to play every single game.”

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