Allrounder Afridi's stunning run
His ability to bludgeon the ball out of the ground isn't in question, and neither is his ability to bowl a few overs of tight legspin and winkle out crucial wickets. Shahid Afridi has always been known for his occasional bursts of explosiveness, but in 2007 he has been immense with both bat and ball. The Faisalabad ODI against South Africa saw him at his irresistible best - his 3 for 37 and 18-ball 32 won him the Man-of-the-Match award - and continued the rich vein of form that has helped him score 277 runs at an average of almost 40, and take 16 wickets at 18.31 apiece from nine one-day internationals this year.
Afridi's career summary shows just how special 2007 has been. Compare it with his performances in the previous year and the contrast is even starker: in 2006 the runs dried up completely - 15 innings fetched a total of 115, with a highest of 23 and nine single-digit scores. His batting average was an embarrassing 7.66, while his 14 wickets came at a rate of more than 40.
This year, though, the story has been completely different. Not only has he found a way to score runs and take wickets, he has done so without compromising on either the strike-rate or the economy-rate - he has scored his runs at nearly 185 per 100 balls, and conceded just four per over with the ball.
|Year||ODIs||Runs||Average||Strike rate||Wkts||Average||Econ rate|
Afridi's legspin has always been the more consistent part of his game, and the numbers show just how effective a bowling option he has been. In ODIs in which he has bowled six or more overs, he has gone at more than seven an over only eight times, while 18 times he has restricted the batsmen to a run-rate of less than three.
Mostly, though, he hasn't found the wickets so easy to come by. In 2007 that has changed as well: among bowlers who have taken at least 15 ODI wickets this year, only the redoubtable Muttiah Muralitharan has a better average. Equally impressive is Afridi's economy-rate: among the bowlers in the table below, only three, Chaminda Vaas, Muralitharan and Shane Bond, have conceded fewer runs per over.
With bat in hand, Afridi has been at his most exciting best this year. He didn't get many in the ICC World Twenty20, but in ODIs he has carted 26 fours and 17 sixes in the 150 deliveries he has faced. That translates into an average of three-and-a-half deliveries per boundary, which explains why he is such a huge draw with the crowd. In fact, the boundary ratio is his best in a single calendar year, though he'll obviously need to maintain these numbers over the remaining seven matches this year.
|Year||Runs/ balls||Strike rate||4s/ 6s||Balls per boundary|
|2007||277/ 150||184.66||26/ 17||3.49|
|2005||640/ 406||157.63||56/ 37||4.37|
|1996||288/ 193||149.22||26/ 18||4.39|
|2004||238/ 161||147.82||21/ 15||4.47|
All these numbers also mean Afridi is among the top allrounders this year. In terms of the difference between batting and bowling averages, only Jacques Kallis has done better - his batting average is nearly 30 more than the bowling one.
|Player||ODIs||Bat ave||Bowl ave||Difference|
In his 243-match ODI career, Afridi has won 18 Man-of-the-Match awards, which translates to one every 13.5 games; this year, though, he has already bagged two in nine: apart from the Faisalabad game, he also won the prize for his unbeaten 73 from 34 balls against Sri Lanka in Abu Dhabi. At this rate he has at least one more MoM performance coming up before the year is done.
S Rajesh is stats editor of Cricinfo.