Bangladesh v Pakistan, Asia Cup, Mirpur March 4, 2014

'We tell Afridi, give yourself 20-25 balls' - Misbah

ESPNcricinfo staff

Having won Pakistan their previous match against India, Shahid Afridi walked in with Pakistan in an even more difficult situation against Bangladesh. With 52 balls remaining, Pakistan needed 102 runs to win. He proceeded to clout 59 off 25 balls, sending seven sixes soaring over the ropes. In between those big hits off the spinners, he kept his head about him, and was prepared to take singles and wait for the loose balls against the seam bowlers.

"I think that's the message given to Shahid Afridi, that at least he should give himself 20-25 balls," Misbah-ul-Haq, Pakistan's captain, said after his team's three-wicket win. "Just make sure that you play 25-30 balls. We know that when he plays 20-25 balls, he can score 50. I think that's what he's doing, and I'm really happy with the way he's playing."

Afridi's controlled aggression was in some ways reminiscent of how he had batted on the road to Pakistan winning the 2009 World T20 title in England. With another edition of that tournament mere days away, Misbah said Afridi's form boded well for Pakistan's prospects.

"I think that's the biggest plus for us, the way Shahid Afridi is playing, not only in this [Asia Cup] final, but also T20 World Cup is coming, so he's the main player, and the kind of form he is in, the kind of confidence, it's good for the Pakistan team."

Misbah said Pakistan could look to use him in a flexible role during the World T20. "He is always used in T20 whenever such a situation comes, he is promoted, and depending on the start his number changes," Misbah said. "I think, the kind of form he is in, Pakistan can use him anywhere in the order."

Pakistan's chase wasn't all about Afridi, of course. Ahmed Shehzad's century and his opening stand of 97 with Mohammad Hafeez laid a solid platform before Fawad Alam, returning to the ODI side after three-and-a-half years, guided the team through the closing stages in the company of Afridi and Umar Akmal. While most of the questions at the press conference were about Afridi's whirwind innings, Misbah kept drawing attention to the other batsmen's contributions.

"I think so," he said, when asked if Afridi's innings was one of the best he had seen. "Not only Shahid Afridi, but also the way Fawad Alam and Ahmed Shehzad played. After his 50, the way he picked up the run rate, it was almost 10 an over and he brought it down to 8, and then well supported by Fawad Alam, and the start of Hafeez was also crucial, and Shahid Afridi. I think all of them I think played much-needed knocks, and in the end Umar Akmal finished it well. In the end it was a great combination of all these batsmen who really won us the game."

With their successful chase of a 327-run target, Pakistan had shrugged a particularly clingy monkey off their backs. They had failed in their last 12 pursuits of 250-plus targets, the most recent instance coming in their opening match of the Asia Cup against Sri Lanka, where they lost wickets in a heap to let go of a dominant position.

Asked what the team talk had been like following that defeat, Misbah said the team management, particularly their chief cricket consultant Zaheer Abbas, had stressed on the need for the batsmen to stay at the crease till the end.

"I think the message was very clear, even by the great Zaheer Abbas, that the kind of ability we have in our dressing room, especially our batsmen, if our batsmen play 50 overs, we can just chase any target," Misbah said. "That was the message even today when we started chasing, that we need to play 50 overs. The batsmen need to play 50 overs, so that was the task given by the management and me also, and we did it and it proved right at the end and we chased the target."

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Samit on March 7, 2014, 16:44 GMT

    @Sohaib: My comment says "The other 55 times he was out **MOST** of the time for single digit score". The comment says "most" of the time, not "always".

    Yes, I said he *batted* about 60 times, so of course I am only counting those innings he actually batted - and that is indeed about 60 innings.

  • Dummy4 on March 7, 2014, 10:39 GMT

    @TinuTapori I dont know from where did you get this 55 matches where he was out on single digit score, If you look at the link you provided in your post, Afridi scored 25 times in 2 digits, while of this 25 matches he was not out 6 times, and score less then 10 in 26 matches while he didn't bat in 9 matches so kindly correct your statistics.

  • Ali on March 7, 2014, 10:12 GMT

    @TinuTapori: You're doing it wrong man. No one expect that kind of "consistency" from Afridi.If you see, he has a very consistent style, which is to "hit the ball", either it's a six or out. That's his style and we know he can't do it other way around. You're also forgetting that he's not playing as batting all rounder anymore but a bowling all rounder. When he speak with his bat, that's a plus for Pakistan. Otherwise we just ignore it by saying "oh well, what more can you expect or its not his day etc".

  • Kinshuk on March 7, 2014, 6:56 GMT

    Afridi, somewhat like Sehwag was, is a luxury that only a world class line - up can afford.

    But if your line - up doesn't have consistent, world class performers, these players become liabilities. The fact is that, a team plays the game of cricket to win. Afridi has lost Pakistan several games as compared to the games that he's won them.

    India doesn't have quality all - rounders. So, if someone like Afridi was a constant figure in the Indian side I would have understood but, Pakistan, with its history of genuine all rounders such as Imran, Wasim, Razzak, Azhar Mehmood, etc. it's surprising that they have had to keep going back to the highly unstable afridi.

  • Android on March 6, 2014, 23:13 GMT

    boom boom on fire

  • Samit on March 6, 2014, 22:48 GMT

    While Afridi had a fantastic innings, and Pakistan won, it should be kept in mind that this was against Bangladesh - a team that even Afghanistan beat.

    Can you recall when was the last time Afridi had such a good innings against a quality opponent? Within the last 3 years, Afridi has batted about 60 times in a One Day match - and has scored a half-century only 5 times. The other 55 times he was out most of the time for single digit score. And I am not making stuff up. Here is the proof:;orderby=start;orderbyad=reverse;template=results;type=batting;view=innings

    Anyways, let 1 innings against Bangladesh not define his recent form - lets wait till end of World Cup.

    @Faraz Khan: While the 1996 innings was a masterclass, using an innings from 18 years ago as an example to define current form is a big stretch. Lets wait till World Cup T20 is over. Consistency is what defines a player

  • Dummy4 on March 6, 2014, 19:18 GMT

    good to see Afridi in full swing. Pakistan need hin badly in T2O. Hope will continue his form.

  • IMRAN on March 6, 2014, 19:16 GMT

    Misbah has not got a place in this team... He is blocking many youngster, surprise to see farad alam avg 40' in test and ODI but don't get picked..... Misbah is weakest link in the team - when he scores pak losses, statically pak lost 90% when scored more than 40, without his contribution pak always win. Clearly seen in last 3 games.... InshAllah he gets out early in Final and from ODI team in near future.....

  • Dummy4 on March 6, 2014, 19:11 GMT

    @vipin first off we are talking about afridi as a player..all rounder..not just a batsman..stop comparing batsman all over the world with him..he is a genuine all you have anyone in indian history as good an allrounder? on the right basis son..To start things off, he has the most times a 5fer and a 50 plus score in a single match...beat this :P

  • Isra on March 6, 2014, 18:19 GMT

    The key really is the play 50 overs. Other than that, it was fantastic to watch Pakistan win because of the batting talent they have! :D #teampakforlife

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