Books or bats?: Shahidi picks the latter and shines
Under captain Hashmatullah Shahidi, Afghanistan are enjoying their best-ever World Cup campaign and the team looks destined for more glory at the mega event in India.
Having come into this World Cup with just one prior win in the tournament -- against Scotland in 2015 -- Afghanistan began with a convincing defeat to Bangladesh.
However, since then, the Afghans proved to be a surprise package this edition, beating defending champions England, 1992 winners Pakistan, and 1996 champions Sri Lanka to fancy a first-ever World Cup semifinal berth.
Their captain, Shahidi, has been the one silently leading the troops. With 226 runs in six matches at an average of 56.50, Shahidi is their leading run-scorer this edition.
However, for Shahidi, son of a physics teacher, choosing cricket as a profession was not an easy choice. It was either physics books or bats to pick from for Shahidi and he stuck with the latter.
"I belong to an educated family. My father has written all the physics textbooks from Class 9 to 12. He has written 44 books on science. He was very smart. He wanted me to keep education as my first priority and cricket just as a hobby. I never liked physics that much. I was never good at studies," Shahidi said The Indian Express in an exclusive interview.
"My father used to tell me to focus on studies. I would tell him okay, I will continue my education, I even sat for university exams to keep him happy but my passion was cricket, and once I was picked for the U-19 team, I barely managed to finish my school. Going to university was not an option," Shahidi added.
Shahidi was made Test and ODI captain in May. According to the cricketer, captaincy only turned him into a better player as now he thinks more about the team and less about individual glory.
"When you are a leader, there are more responsibilities on you. As a player, I was circumspect, I used to put a lot of pressure on myself. I wanted to finish the game. I always wanted to carry the team through, and it was hampering my batting. I was struggling with my strike rate. I was taking so much pressure, but after a while, I realised that I am not the team, I am just a part of it. Instead of going for individual glory, my role is also to steer my teammates. It's a team game," he said.