You have to be living under a rock if you haven’t heard of Shahid Khan Afridi, Pakistan’s enigmatic batsman who has arguably garnered the most adulation in the world of cricket ever since he graced the crease in 1996 as a 16-year-old boy against Kenya in his first ever international fixture.
Shahid Afridi’s eccentric batting has made him what he is today–a true star feverishly popular among the masses. Despite his shortcomings as a cricketer, he continues to enjoy more popularity than some of the technical greats of the game Pakistan produced such as Javed Miandad, Waqar Younis, Inzamam-ul-Haq, Mohammad Yousuf, Moin Khan, Rashid Latif and others.
Afridi is a fearless campaigner and goes after any bowler in the world–be it a spinner or a fast bowler. Ever since he shocked the world with his 37-ball century (a record that he held for 17 years before Corey Anderson broke it in 2014), fans have always expected much from Afridi with the bat.
However, his mercurial temperament coupled with an aggression that has no match ensured over the years that he remained inconsistent with the bat. Which is most probably why after playing 398 matches he averages only 28 in ODIs.
Shahid Afridi has played only 27 Test matches throughout his illustrious career and scored only 5 centuries and 8 fifties. He fared slightly better in ODIs, as he scored 6 centuries and 38 fifties. In total, in ODIs he has scored 8064 runs at an average of 23.57.
But Afridi is not only a batsman–he can be deadly with the ball when the situation requires it. He has taken 395 scalps from 398 ODIs which include 9 five-wicket hauls.
As far as T20s are concerned, he’s played 98 of them and taken 97 wickets that include 3 four-wicket hauls. With the bat, the all-rounder has scored 4 fifties at an average of 18.01.
After a dismal performance by Pakistan in the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015, Afridi and Misbah-ul-Haq both retired on the same day when the green shirts were sent packing by Australia at Adelaide Oval on March 20, 2015.
Afridi has always stepped up for Pakistan when the green shirts required a heroic performance from one of its players. He made fifties in the semi-final and final of the ICC T20 World Cup 2009 to ensure Pakistan took home the crown under the able leadership of Younis Khan.
In the 2007 edition of the T20 World Cup, Afridi took home the prize of Man of the Series for his stellar batting and bowling prowess.
Afridi led Pakistan in the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 and while critics counted Pakistan out of the competition especially after the spot-fixing saga ensuring lengthy bans for star cricketers Mohammad Asif, Mohammad Amir and Salman Butt, the green shirts reached the semi-final of the cup where they lost to India.
But Afridi emerged as a prolific bowler throughout the tournament when he took 21 wickets in all.His performances with the bat in the 2014 Asia Cup remain unrivaled till even this day. Shahid Afridi smashed a quick-fire 34 and secured a last-over victory for Pakistan that saw India eliminated from the tournament. In the next game against Bangladesh, he equalled his own record for the second fastest fifty and secured Pakistan a berth in the final.
It was unfortunate that Pakistan lost in the final to Sri Lanka but Afridi’s performances have been etched in the record books.
Shahid Afridi remains one of the most prolific cricketers to have emerged from South Asia in the past couple of decades. He has not only performed with the bat for Pakistan but also with his bowling and superb fielding.
We wish Shahid Khan Afridi a very happy 38th birthday and even though he seems to be in the twilight of his career, we wish the star cricketer all the best for a lengthy career for Pakistan in T20s.