India v Pakistan, Asia Cup, Mirpur March 2, 2014

'I knew I could hit the carrom ball' - Afridi


'One of Afridi's best innings' - Misbah

With one stroke in Sharjah, Javed Miandad "was remarked to have cut across the Indian ego like a knife slash…," wrote Rahul Bhattacharya in Pundits from Pakistan.

As Shahid Afridi dispatched the ball mightily into the Dhaka sky, the leading edge just about carried over the long-on fielder. It was Pakistan's first one-wicket win over India since April 18, 1986.

When nine was needed off the last four balls, Afridi smashed R Ashwin for a six over extra cover. Afridi didn't leave it as late as Miandad and Tauseef Ahmed did.

As Ashwin slowly moved towards the popping crease, Afridi was the centre of attention. He shuffled, smashed and ran. Not in the direction of the non-striker's end but towards the general direction of the dressing room and his onrushing team-mates.

Afridi knew it was a six even before the ball dropped behind the fielder; the trademark star-man celebration was back, this time wearing pads and gloves with a bat in his hand.

Later, he told Star Sports that he was confident of handling Ashwin's variations. For the earlier six, he said, he had set his mind on the exact spot to target.

"I knew that I could hit his carrom ball and I had spotted it. It was pulled back slightly but I connected it really well," Afridi said. "He had the field set on the on-side, keeping the fielders up on the off-side. I thought that if I could play through extra cover, I can find runs through that region."

Afridi readily admitted that he had let the team down with some ill-advised shots against Sri Lanka and Afghanistan, and he had set his mind on getting it right this time. He spoke candidly about how sometimes he gets confused when asked to bat for long.

"I had played some stupid shots in the previous games to get out. I know that my batting is very important to my team, so I have to be consistent in my batting. It helps the team a lot. I had to play sensibly. I wanted to bring down the [target].

"If I have 15-25 overs to bat, captain tells me to play singles and doubles. I become double-minded. It is not in my nature. The lesser the overs, I feel better and play better. I play single-mindedly. That's what makes me comfortable."

Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq believes that this win will stop the criticism of Afridi. "I am very happy about Shahid Afridi, who has taken a lot of criticism in the last two matches," Misbah said. "I think he showed experience and won us a game that almost went out of our control.

"We expect innings like that from him. Whenever he [takes his] time in the middle and plays sensibly, he can be very dangerous. He already did it quite a few times, and this was one of his best innings. I think that the game was in our hands in the second-last over but after that it was quite difficult. Still, we knew that if Afridi can get the strike back, we will have a chance. He played very well. The last two sixes were tremendous."

Afridi has plenty of stand-out innings, and this 34 not out will be right up there, as it came against India under intense pressure. The game could have gone either way, and plenty of people had expected him to mess it up.

Nobody thought that about Miandad back in 1986. He had been batting on 110 off 113 balls when he hit it like a home-run. In an earlier paragraph in the book, Bhattacharya had called Miandad the "…purveyor of the single most famous stroke in Pakistan's history, perhaps even India's history…"

Eighteen years into Afridi's career - one that includes a World Twenty20 trophy, a record for the fastest ODI century that stood for over 17 years, and many sixes and smiles and the star man - he has played another defining knock. One that fans will continue to relive on YouTube years from now.

Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on March 5, 2014, 19:06 GMT

    @Biggest_Cricket_Fan hahahahaha!!! seriously??? you are going to blame Ashwin??? remember your Best player Virat Kohli scoring only 5 runs in the crucial match?? why not blame Ravinder Jadeja for poor bowling?? may be they should let Amit Mishra Bowl 20-30 overs because now he can... being a part of Big 3! and what an umpiring in this big game...i think effect of Big 3 is working already!

  • raj on March 5, 2014, 16:43 GMT

    Both India and Pak over over-rated sides. They are both useless outside of the sub-continent!! With such large populations they are an embarrassment. If it came down to which one is a bigger embarrassment then it would have to be India as they have a larger population and because they have a better record at home (that counts against them when they lose overseas). The truth of the matter is AUS IS THE BEST - always were and always will be. It is almost a divine right - Aus might go down for a brief period but like it or not, they will return to the top!!Just like Soccer belongs to Brazil, Rugby belongs to NZ, Cricket belongs to Aus!!!

  • Android on March 5, 2014, 14:27 GMT

    afridi I love ur batting u r handsome cricketer

  • Azfar on March 5, 2014, 4:00 GMT

    Despite all these cric history lessons, and twisted facts given in few posts, let's come back to real world now. There's no favourite when traditional rivals like Pakistan and India play against each other. Both teams are great and Asia should be proud of them. Let's be sportsmen, not warriors, if we want to produce more Gawaskars, Imran Khans, Miandads, Wasims and waqars out of these lands.

  • Dummy4 on March 4, 2014, 10:43 GMT

    Afridi held his nerves and played a fantastic innings. He held his nerves and pulled back the match from Indians. An incredible innings which will haunt Ashwin for times to come. I think it was the sheer courage from Afridi which won them the match. Afridi is a devastating player and also a very talented player. I wish he had a little more patience then his numbers would have lot better. Anyways some players are born that way. Being a hardcore Indian fan I enjoyed the final moments of the match where Afridi belted the ball out of the ground. The single cost India the match. I think the fielding set for the first ball was great but the Indians allowed an easy single and let the match slip away from. A fantastic game of cricket where finally the team with better nerves own the match. Well tried Kohli and Ashwin. One advise to Ashwin "you are fantastic bowler when you bowl orthodox balls, stick to it you can India to many victories in the future". Well Kohli will bounce back...

  • Jawwad on March 4, 2014, 3:54 GMT

    @KiwiRocker- The Mohali WC2011 semi final game was initially scheduled to be played in Lahore. Sachin's last World Cup. Could he have retired without a WC win? Oh, it would be convenient for Pakistani fans to cross over to Mohali after all! On to match - Well, if boundaries were shorter, then what does that say about Indian Hitting Power? This was Afridi saying Boom Boom! He is a legend and has credentials to prove it. If I am not wrong he is second after none other than Sachin in the list for most MoM? Pretty decent group to be part of.

  • Android on March 4, 2014, 2:53 GMT

    im reading all the indian ppl`s comment for pass 2 hours and only laughing how much u ppl r hurt with this defeat, boundary is small, afridi is not player, it was a luck, bla bla bla, oh if boundry was small why indian team didnt tell the match referee make the boundaries big we are indians we hit big big sixes, shame on u ppl 11 players plus 2 umpires still didnt win, 4 u ppl`s information afridi didnt only hit last 2 sixes he made 34 runs that u call a intelligent player wen his team was in danger he played like a player, url played srilanka and lost that time boundary was big we url made also under 250 shame on u ppl saying words like this, who ever is coming to congratulate pakistan got 1 word also against pakistan or afridi, dhoni was captain in south africa what hapen boundry was short? dhoni was captain newziland time what hapen boundry was also short 4 other team? see u in the t20 cup, hope india dont forget about boundaries.

  • Pleasure on March 4, 2014, 1:44 GMT

    @yvivekcb: be careful what you wish for WC is coming soon T20 & ODI. Ciao

  • Cricket on March 3, 2014, 23:17 GMT

    It's really amusing to see Pak fans extoll the win to utmost levels. It was a close game that went to the wire and in no terms is even an iota close to Miandad's six off the last ball. Back then that victory for Pak was much needed and turned the wave for several years to Pak favor. That victory had tears in Imran Khan's eyes as the Australasia cup was Pak's first cup in any semi-global event. Imran had to prove ..Yes they could beat India in ODIs specifically.

  • Cricket on March 3, 2014, 22:07 GMT

    To Ali Malik, who has written some half facts only. Show me one cricket match in World Cup since 1975 (First time when WC) was played where Pakistan was able to beat India. You wont find it because this has never happened. For this match, its Ashwin who is more responsible for this defeat than Afridi for victory of Pak. Ashwin should be kicked on the behind and get some rythm before he is in team. Hopefully selectors will go ahead with Amit Mishra for coming matches instead of Ashwin.

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