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Same bowlers, same opposition - but different captain. This was Shahid Afridi's day. In the beginning he sat wrapped up on the balcony of the Lord's pavilion, a fluffy owl. Later, he appeared for the toss, a dapper country gent in blazer and whites, to win an important toss.
The Pakistan captain's final incarnation was as an attacking leader, a giant among midgets--this is after all, one of the shortest Pakistan teams ever to take the field.
Afridi has laid claim to an oubreak of right thinking in the Pakistan camp. It might be true. For a start, the Pakistan players all strode out proudly in green caps, not a floppy hat in sight. Next, Afridi set five slips in an attempt to pressurise the mighty Australians. He has the bowlers to justify his actions. It is the batsmen who he will be most nervous about, if he ever feels nerves.
For the most part Afridi's bowlers responded. Mohammad Aamer, nerveless as ever, spreading uncertainty with early swing. Asif turned the match from the Pavilion End, favoured by no lesser bowlers than Waqar Younis and Glenn McGrath. Even Danish Kaneria and Umar Gul, unreliable Test fellows, provided worthy support.
Throughout all this, Afridi attacked in the field. Even when his instincts looked foolish, as Simon Katich and Michael Clarke defied the conditions with some sparkling strokeplay, Afridi was on the hunt. He juggled his bowlers but the attacking field placings remained.
If nothing else, Afridi's captaincy is the starkest possible contrast to that of Mohammad Yousuf. In the end, the result might be the same but Afridi's instinct is closer to the senses of his country's supporters.
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Kamran Abbasi is an editor, writer and broadcaster. He tweets hereFeeds: Kamran Abbasi
© ESPN EMEA Ltd.
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Kamran Abbasi is an editor, writer and broadcaster. He was the first Asian columnist for Wisden Cricket Monthly and wisden.com. Kamran is the editor of the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine. @KamranAbbasi