by Suyash Srivastava
“Go and play your natural game” is the mantra that any coach or a captain would give to his aggressive players in do or die situations, the reason being that one cannot ask players like Virender Sehwag, Adam Gilchrist, or Shahid Afridi to change their game as they all are natural strikers of the ball. But Shahid Afridi knew that his natural game wasn’t getting him anything except criticism.
Afridi might have decided to develop some amount of patience with his natural game and plan his own strategy. His strategy worked against South Africa in the semi final match of ICC World Twenty20. He did the same against the Sri Lankan in the final and the rest is history.
For the initial few overs, he was calm and cool and towards the end, he was the usual Boom Boom Afridi we all know. He was taking singles and that was a sight even his captain had not seen for long. The Lankan Tigers were spellbound as this wasn’t the kind of Afridi they had been looking for. Before they could realize the truth, Pakistan had become the new T20 champs!
He had showed his intentions in his very first ODI innings when he smashed a century in just 37 balls. He has hit over 250 sixes in ODI cricket. He shares a record with Brian Lara for scoring the third fastest century of just 45 balls. After this innings he was named Boom Boom Afridi by former Indian cricketer Ravi Shastri. He holds four of the top eight fastest ODI half centuries, twice completed in 18 balls and twice in 20 balls. He has also scored a half century off just 21 balls.
When the concept of T20 was developed, the name that first flashed was that of Shahid Afridi. The man still holds the record of scoring the fastest century in just 37 balls! Everybody thought with his devastating killer instincts he would certainly outbeat all the opponents. In a match of 120 balls with his power hitting, he can nullify the most lethal of bowling attacks and that is the reason why people love watching him.
He opened the innings for Pakistan for a long time but later on his lack of patience became a curse for the team as he was in the habit of throwing his bat to the widest of deliveries. That’s the time when he was criticized for his carefree approach towards his batting. This is the reason why Afridi never got a permanent place in the Test team.
Despite his flaws, he has contributed to the team as an all rounder. He carries a sword when he goes to bat, his leg breaks often get a wicket and even while fielding, he looks like a leopard.
The recent ICC World Twenty20 was a tournament where Shahid Afridi had actually decided to bat as per the situation. The opponents were not ready for this at all. They had been watching just a Boom Boom Afridi all these years. He did Boom but also reconstructed his innings with crucial partnerships, playing according to the merit of the ball. In his early days he was the favourite Pakistani cricketer and the girls not only in Pakistan but also in India went gaga just after his smile.
Life seems to have taken Afridi to a full circle. He has received a very warm welcome in Pakistan after the team returned from England. He has honoured Pakistan with the World Cup at a juncture when it needed it the most. Happy days seem to have re-entered in Afridi’s life and his forgotten fans have all of a sudden found a fresh enthusiasm infused.
None of the teams are ready to play in Pakistan but Afridi haS wiped away the sorrows of Pakistan fans by a matter of two of his brilliant innings. We hope this victory will bring positive results for Pakistan cricket as well as for Pakistan fans.
This revolutionized Afridi is certainly a threat for all the other opponents who thought that the Afridi-era had came to and end!