“When the going gets tough, the tough gets going and when the going gets tough for Shahid Afridi, he dishes out incredible performances, for which his fans continue to adore him despite his inconsistency,” Writes Faisal Caesar
He was almost about to slip from everyone’s mind. The critics had started writing his obituaries once again. For TV channels, the man had become a subject of funny parodies, and the selectors excluded him from Champions Trophy squad only to see Pakistan capitulating haplessly. How could the critics, selectors, and fans write off an enigma whose eruptions are intermittent but astonishingly nonpareil? How could they undermine the abilities of a Pathan who has intimidated the most ferocious bowlers with his uninhibited belligerence? It’s a fallacy to undermine a player like Afridi.
There is a charm in a pugnaciously pounded cover drive; there are mystique senses in watching the ball spin at will – the game blooms like a wildflower when dashers like Afridi take the center stage. When it’s his day everything comes together and forms a mercurial maelstrom. Afridi’s raw power is a sight to relish; his magical exhibitions are a gift from the heavens.
After a dismal ICC Champions Trophy in England, there had been murmurs whether Afridi’s career can be given another lifeline. The Pakistani selectors had already axed seniors like Younis Khan, Shoaib Malik and Imran Farhat and it was least expected that Afridi would feature in the team for the West Indies tour. But the selectors felt the need to inject a wild flavour and Afridi returned to play for Pakistan again and immediately proved his worth with scintillating performances.
In the first ODI at Providence, Guyana, the Afridi magic was evident at large. Batting first, the Pakistani top order, as usual, was reeling at 47 for 5. The manner of dismissals was demoralizing. But wait! Afridi is still to come. Whenever he’s around the cricketing landscape is never short of actions. A written-off Afridi came out to bat to give Misbah-ul-Haq the company. Misbah was in his sheet-anchor-like-role mood but Afridi donned the mantle of an absolute destroyer. Afridi remained unfazed by critical situation and unleashed his kamikaze style of batting which simply dented the Caribbean bowlers – five towering sixes and six scorching boundaries enlivened the Providence stadium. Afridi doled out a loquacious but cataclysmic 76 off 55 balls. According to Misbah, the Providence track was the toughest to cope with but it didn’t matter much to Afridi who stood tall and strong to plunder the Caribbean attack.
When his turn came to essay magic with the ball, Afridi made short work of the West Indian batsmen in the twinkle of an eye. He came into bowl as the sixth bowler and ended up grabbing 7 wickets for just 12 runs from his allotted nine overs. Afridi, yet again, hit the headlines with a game transforming half-century and the second-best ODI bowling figures of all-time.
In the nail-biting final ODI at Saint Lucia, the chutzpah of Afridi was evident again where he cracked a quick-fire 13 off 6 balls to ensure Pakistan would clinch the ODI series.
In the first T20I at Saint Vincent, Afridi’s bat again flashed to script a critical 46-run innings to help Pakistan win a thrilling encounter. Throughout the West Indies tour, Afridi shone brightly with the bat as well as with the ball.
Shahid Afridi has made a comeback with a bang!
When the going gets tough, the tough gets going and when the going gets tough for Shahid Afridi, he dishes out incredible performances, for which his fans continue to adore him despite his inconsistency. How can Pakistan leave its most majestic gift in the cold and allot places for players like Imran Farhat and Shoaib Malik? Afridi’s vim has still not sapped. He still has a lot to offer for his team and world cricket. To enjoy the Pakistan team you need the feral ebullience of Afridi. To make a successful ODI and T20 team, Pakistan need the magic of this prodigal Pathan.