Shaheen Shah Afridi’s promotion up the order and his surprising success with the bat played a pivotal role in Lahore Qalandars’ title-winning PSL campaign this year. Sam Billings tells the inside story of the ingenious ploy.

Renowned for his fast-bowling expertise, Shaheen proved to be the grand surprise package of the PSL, producing game-changing cameos after promoting himself up the order. He hit 43 per cent of all his T20 runs in this PSL edition, including his first half-century in any format of the game.

He saved his best for the final, when he hauled the Qalandars out from 112-5 and propelled them to 200-6, cracking an unbeaten 15-ball 44.

Speaking on the latest Wisden Cricket Weekly Podcast, Sam Billings – Shaheen’s teammate at Qalandars – revealed how the decision to have him at No.7 came about.

Shaheen had started the tournament at No.9 but pushed himself to six in the middle, where he cracked a 36-ball 52. Just before the final, he had batted at eight, suggesting that he might not experiment with another promotion, after all.

When Qalandars lost three wickets for one run – all to spin – Billings came up with the idea to counterattack. “I am going to sound really bad here and try and take a little bit of credit but I got out. I was in the dressing room and he started kind of getting his pads on.

“The left-arm spinner [Khushdil Shah] was on, they were gonna to start bowling, and we’d lost three wickets to spin. “Generally, we talk about match-ups and all. In my head, I said why don’t you go out and slog this left-arm spinner? Left-hand bat.”

Shaheen seemed to have agreed, for he charged out of the dressing room, leaving many, including Wiese, bemused.

“He frantically got his pads on then the wicket went down,” said Billings. “And he just marched out. David Wiese was very disappointed. Yeah, straight out. But he ended up blocking and getting off strike. So yeah, my thinking was slightly different and he just took down everyone who bowled to him after a couple of balls.”

Shaheen’s cameo took Qalandars to 200-6, which ended up being a run too many for Multan Sultans, who chaotically lost off the final ball.

“Incredible batting, really changed the game, if we’re honest,” said Billings. “Probably the difference in the whole game.”

You can watch the full podcast here: