He is the golden boy of Pakistan cricket. For 15 years, he has been making his country proud, and still Shahid Afridi has a long way to go. The all-star Pakistani gave one of the best performances of his career as Pakistan revived the magic of Sharjah, and won the series against Sri Lanka.
What makes Shahid Afridi different from the other players in the side? Never ever has his name been linked with match fixing, in fact it was he who blew the whistle on the whole scenario in England last year. It was Afridi’s bold decision to quit playing under former Chairman of Pakistan Cricket Board Ijaz Butt that gave him the chance to stay back and assess his pros and cons, and that’s what helped him come back as a better player. So far in this series, he has scored 119 runs at a strike rate of 126 and an average of nearly 40 (better than his career strike rate of 114 and average of nearly 24) whereas has taken 12 wickets which is 2 more than Pakistan’s spin ace Saeed Ajmal.
No cricketer has had a comeback like that of Shahid Afridi is enjoying. He was declared Man of the Match for his bowling in the first one dayer on his return, and in the fourth one, single handedly won the match for his team. His 65-ball 75 and later 5 wickets for 35 runs proved too hot for the Sri Lankans to handle. He also becomes the first all-rounder to achieve the ‘fifty and five wickets’ feat in one dayers for the second time in his career. The last time he did so was against England in Lahore 11 years back. Pakistan won both the matches, and Afridi won the man of the match!
Shahid Afridi’s comeback performance brings out a million dollar question: Is captaincy really a burden on the skipper? Yes it is because since his twin centuries last year in the Asia Cup, Shahid Afridi’s batting form has gone down. Now it is Misbah ul Haq’s turn who looks a shadow of his old self ever since becoming captain.
As for the series, Pakistan has taken an unassailable 3-1 lead, with one more match to go, after which the teams will play a T20 match. Pakistan is due to leave for Bangladesh directly from United Arab Emirates, and one thing is certain. Shahid Afridi will be on that plane!