Tuesday, February 22, 2011

SHAHID KHAN AFRIDI ' Without doubt, he was the man who defined the series'.

Shahid Afridi who was given man of the series award for his 13 wickets in the series has also moved to number 7

The return of all-rounder Shahid Afridi to international cricket from his self imposed retirement certainly lifted the spirits of the Pakistan team. His presence alone inspired the team to raise their standards on the field. Afridi certainly came back with a vengeance wanting to prove that at 31 he still had a lot of petrol left in his tank.

Afridi was forced into conditional retirement from the game following differences with Waqar Younis, then coach of the team, which led to former Pakistan Cricket Board chairman Ijaz Butt removing him from the captaincy of the one-day side in May. Only after Butt stepped down last month did Afridi come out of retirement and return to the side. Following his series clinching performance in the fourth ODI against Sri Lanka at Sharjah (75 runs and 5 for 35) Afridi stated, “There were a lot of challenges in front of me, a lot of things I needed to disprove. I accept those challenges. Actions speak louder than words and this is the time for action. Lots of things have been said, stupid things, but now is the time for cricket, I want to play cricket and be a cricketer.”

Player Bio
Full Name: Sahibzada Mohammad Shahid Khan Afridi
Date of Birth: 1st March, 1980
Place of Birth: Khyber Agency, NWFP, Pakistan
Age: 26 years
Height: 5 feet, 11 inches
Nickname: Boom Boom Afridi, Lala
Right handed Batsman and Right Arm Legbreak Bowler
Shahid Afridi Wife: Nadia Afridi

The Afridi of today is more matured and does not go on a full scale attack on the bowlers from ball one which has earned him the nickname of ‘Boom Boom’. He adjusts his game according to the situation and to his team’s needs which makes him even more dangerous than when he is playing strokes which gives the bowlers a chance to dismiss him. One area in which Afridi has improved vastly is his bowling where he is able to bowl his leg-spin and googlies on a teasing length that creates doubts in the batsmen’s mind. 

Afridi finished the ODI series against Sri Lanka with 123 runs (strike rate 125.51) and 13 wickets (avg.15.30, economy rate 4.07) and with it pocketed the Man of the Series award. In some ways Pakistan must be thankful to its former cricket chief for it was his action that led to Afridi returning to international cricket with a vengeance; unfortunately it had to be at the expense of Sri Lanka.

He became the only man in one-day cricket to hit a half century and take five wickets in the same match on two occasions. Jayawardene, who made 55, fell in the 44th over which left Sri Lanka with no chance to get the win they were seeking.

After the match Afridi said that he had a point to prove:

“Actions speak louder than words. There were a lot of challenges and there were a lot things that I had to prove wrong.”

Without doubt, he was the man who defined the series, and won it for Pakistan; but in the midst of it all, one man was being overlooked. Rarely has a Pakistani captain had a better win record than Misbah, yet he is damned with faint praise, often with the phrase: “oh, he handled Afridi well.”

The public similarly has focused on Afridi, despite Misbah having lead the team to 5 unbeaten test series and the best record in ODIs in 2011 (although Afridi was the captain for the first half of them). He even led Pakistan home in the only T20 against Sri Lanka on Friday. The reasons for this apathy, though, are obvious. Misbah-the-captain is treated as such because of his association with Misbah-the-player and Misbah-the-man. Sure, he might have the record of Imran, but he doesn’t have his personality. Secondly, every Pakistani fan seems to believe that Pakistan are recklessly gung-ho and always have been, and Misbah is trying to remove that identity.

Shahid Afridi burst on to the cricket scene in 1996. He was selected for his leg spin bowling but created history by scoring the fastest ODI hundred in his first innings. He was sent up the order to try to score quick runs and that he surely did by scoring a hundred in 37 balls. Such a remarkable feat by a 16 year old turned him in to a super star over night. He has continued to focus on scoring fast instead of focusing on preserving his wicket. His single minded focus on throwing the kitchen sink at every delivery makes for very interesting viewing as anything can happen. His all out quest for glory or bust has earned him legions of fans in Pakistan. However, he has had to pay for having the highest strike rate in ODI cricket in terms of being under severe scrutiny for having a low average. When his heroics fail he is usually dropped from the Pakistan team only to come back stronger and earn back his place. He has earned all his fame due to his dare devil batting but he has also distinguished himself as a handy legbreak bowler with a wicked quicker delivery that clocks up to 80 mph. His aggressive bowling and athletic fielding has helped him stay in the team at times when his batting has failed him. 

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