Pakistan’s eagle Shaheen Afridi has landed

You best be in your seat for the start of the innings if Shaheen Afridi is bowling.

You best be in your seat for the start of the innings if Shaheen Afridi is bowling. Photo: Aamir Qureshi/AFP

Published Oct 19, 2022


Cape Town — Shaheen Afridi’s first over has assumed almost mythic proportions. Of course a great deal of that has to do with Pakistan and their rich history of colourful storytelling, so they know how to weave a tale.

But there’s also Afridi himself, with his long limbs, his hair being so carefully styled and the way he achieves that success within the first six balls of a match.

He can swing the ball back into the right hander, away from him too, he has a devastating yorker and that flamboyant, arms raised celebration that starts with him blowing a kiss.

The message from Pakistani cricket fans is clear: You best be in your seat for the start of the innings if Afridi is bowling.

Last year’s T20 World Cup in the United Arab Emirates, is when this whole myth really started taking on a life of its own. Afridi had gone into that tournament having picked up at least one wicket in the first over 20 times in 61 innings leading up to that tournament.

There were facts to back the myth and then on T20’s biggest stage he delivered against Pakistan’s biggest rivals, India. Rohit Sharma got one of those bending yorkers - it was the first ball he faced - and he was trapped lbw.

In the semi-final against Australia, Aaron Finch fell in similar fashion. As an opener you know it’s coming, but there is little you can do to stop it, and so the legend grows. Afridi goes into this year’s T20 World Cup, once more as Pakistan’s primary bowling weapon.

“He’s a wicket-taker”, former Australian player Mark Waugh told recently. “He sort of lifts the team. He’s a guy that other players follow. He is a left-armer so that’s another point of difference. He can swing the ball back into the right-hander, he’s quick as well.”

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The 22-year-old Afridi has bagged 47 wickets in 40 T20 internationals for Pakistan. He last played in July, having sustained a knee injury during a Test against Sri Lanka. However, he described himself as being “110%” fit ahead of his arrival in Australia.

With conditions Down Under expected to favour pace, Afridi and the likes of Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins, Kagiso Rabada and Anrich Nortje are expected to light up the tournament, with their thrilling set of skills.

The Melbourne Cricket Ground, will provide the stage for the latest instalment of the Pakistan vs India rivalry on Sunday. That’s when Afridi hopes to write another chapter into what is already a mythical tale.


IOL Sport

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