Twenty20 World Cup 2009 June 13, 2009

Afridi lights the fire

Umar Gul fried New Zealand at The Oval but it was Shahid Afridi who lit the fire, with a sprinting catch and some mesmerising bowling

Shahid Afridi's array of drifters, spinners and yorkers bamboozled New Zealand © Associated Press

Umar Gul fried New Zealand at The Oval but it was Shahid Afridi who lit the fire. Afridi's sprinting catch off Scott Styris was a delightful surprise for all Pakistan fans, and it set the tone for a sparkling performance and swung the psychology of the match in Pakistan's favour.

Let's be clear, Pakistan still have their problems. The fielding can be geriatric and the batting isn't entirely convincing but Pakistan's bowlers are becoming a formidable combination. The root of this is a varied bowling attack that can halt the run rate through aggression.

Gul produced a glorious record-breaking spell but his first wicket belonged to Afridi's exhilarating race to grasp Styris's soaring strike. By then Afridi had already bewildered New Zealand's batsmen with his array of drifters, spinners, and laser guided yorkers. For Afridi fans it is a relief that his bowling has become so formidable in cricket's shorter versions, else he might have been lost to the international arena.

What's more, Afridi also found time to revert to a batting approach that can restore his confidence. He remains a beautifully clean striker of the ball but he betrays his ability when he allows impatience to force him to hit across the line.

Afridi is at his best striking through the ball and straight, an approach that requires at least a few sighters before an all-out assault. Now Afridi and Pakistan have a further opportunity to fine tune their form and strategy when they seek revenge against Ireland and a berth in the semi-finals.

This was a good day for Pakistan. Apart from Afridi and Gul, Shahzaib demonstrated some promising firepower, and Aamer again showed ability and temperament that helped him recover from a poor start. Abdul Razzaq made a vital and emotional return too.

Pakistan know all too well that a team that times its run right can cause a surprise. A Pakistani triumph in this tournament would still be a surprise but only three straight Twenty20 victories, with the first against Ireland, is an appetising challenge.

Kamran Abbasi is an editor, writer and broadcaster. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • testli5504537 on June 24, 2009, 12:49 GMT

    With the grace of God Pakistan is now become World Champion of T20 Cricket 2009. We are all very happy and hope that Paistan will maintian their performance in comming years

  • testli5504537 on June 17, 2009, 6:36 GMT

    i wl proud on pakistan. pakistan wl win world cup. the team wl strong by coming of abdul razak

  • testli5504537 on June 16, 2009, 20:54 GMT

    It's so exciting to watch Afridi bowl or bat. You never know what he's gonna do.

  • testli5504537 on June 16, 2009, 17:04 GMT


    Please beleive in your self, take some time on wicket and start hit the ball cleanly. Do not hurry and don't listen the spectator (the enemies in disguies). No one can hit all the ball so take time to see the ball and hit the bad ball of overs, not all then after you can hit 12 sixs in row. I like you and like your style of batting. Only you need to open the inning and clear the 30 yard circle and play the shot where feilder is not posted. Please see the feilding before hitting the ball and be patient and watchfull in early of the inning. Once you get in touch you are the best hitter......

  • testli5504537 on June 16, 2009, 8:12 GMT

    I agree with you Mr. Usman Zia, our media is inexperience, the matter which they should utilize, isn't utilized unlike other medias who exploit us too much easily.

  • testli5504537 on June 16, 2009, 5:56 GMT

    Afridi is in track... he is really doing better than others. Team should upgrade to Afridi in batting line. Most of the time he was being out by hitting spinners ball... If team management will send as a opener, he can do well by hitting well.. he can hit to Fast bowler. if so then there is no any doubt of winning tweenty20 worldcup by Pakistan!

  • testli5504537 on June 15, 2009, 18:24 GMT

    I love Pakistan I Love Pakistan I Love Pakistan I Love Pakistan well done pakistan Insahallah Pakistan Will win the trophy its time to boost the pakistani team and pray for them inshallah pakistan will win inshallah go pakistan go all pakistani will pray for pakistan team agar best of luck pakistan

  • testli5504537 on June 15, 2009, 10:51 GMT

    Afridi with his wily spinners has proved that he can make the headlines with the ball for a change instead of talking with the bat. He has ensured that he is able to keep up to the reputation and hopes that Younis has kept on him in continuing to be part of the team even though he hasnt fired with his willow. Hope they go a long way in this tournament to prove to the world that they feel more for cricket amid the happening at their country.

  • testli5504537 on June 15, 2009, 9:09 GMT

    Thats what i stated when Pak won the match!! that momentum was setup by Afridi!! that was the lifting moment when he pulled the team n crowd. And Darting yorkers og GUL was magnificent. Strikong Vettori by Shahzaib was alarm for all teams. He has the ability of clearing the Feild he need bit confidence and I hope he'll earn from match against IRELAND!! Hope Pakistan will bring Trophy with Them... GO Green GO!!

  • testli5504537 on June 15, 2009, 8:29 GMT

    Well done Afridi! i would like to suggest team management to make the use of afridi in the batting by sending him as operner and get the maximum of first six overs. keep the Kamran as back of Afridi or at number 6.

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