March 7, 2011

Afridi's real match-winning role

He made his name by blasting bowlers in the stands, but nowadays it's with ball in hand that Pakistan's captain makes his biggest mark
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In hindsight, Shahid Afridi's first international innings has come to hang around him like a curse. It has condemned him forever after to expectations of a repeat, which is why his Kanpur hundred against India was probably the greater feat. But until recently it had thrown him into a kind of purgatory, stuck between the promise of that Afridi and the possibility of a milder Afridi of greater maturity and sense.

It's a shame, for only over the last few years has the truth about Afridi emerged, the truth he has propagated ever louder since he finally settled into the ODI side in 2004 and the truth he has actually known since he began: he is a bowler. He is not a batting all-rounder who bowls. With imagination, he could be a bowling all-rounder who can bat, though with that we could all be Brad Pitt or Angeline Jolie. Mostly he is just a bowler. Very occasionally he changes the game with a bat.

Not many people buy it still. At every press conference he has appeared in during the World Cup, he's been asked at least once when we can expect some, to use the unimaginative phrase, boom boom. What about your batting? Are you worried about your batting? When will you perform with the bat?

A few years ago he'd bother to give a proper response, to say he was working on it; the coaches and seniors were helping him; he didn't know why but he just felt like belting the ball as soon as he saw the bowler run in and so on. These last couple of weeks he has simply become dismissive, even a little snarky: "Yes, inshallah I will perform," "Yes, I am batting well," or "it was a good ball," which he said about a wide full toss outside off he scythed straight to point. Off a Canadian bowler.

He hasn't stopped caring about his batting altogether because he lives off the image, of course, as does the new sports equipment firm in Pakistan, Boom Boom. The idea of an Afridi six remains commercially lucrative but you can see it annoys him. He wants to be known as a bowler first. And as three games have reaffirmed in this World Cup, he is actually an out and out strike bowler and currently, Pakistan's most effective.

Statsguru, as it does so often, might shock you. Since the beginning of 2008, nobody has taken more wickets for Pakistan than Afridi, who has 94 in 66 ODIs. More impressively, only three bowlers around the world have taken more wickets than him in that time. Only Shakib Al Hasan has bowled more overs than him. And both his strike rate and economy rates for the top wicket-takers in that period, are among the best.

From every angle, Afridi is a striker, a matchwinning bowler and a golden one at that. It is to him Pakistan go for wickets and breakthroughs, for controlling the run-rate, for applying pressure. And he does it across that spread of the game - the middle overs - where matters are most difficult: runs need to be stopped to control proceedings and wickets need to be taken to win them.

On his best days, Afridi gets a quite vicious drift. It isn't a floating one like more traditional leg-spinners might get. It is rapid, an extension of his personality. Suddenly in flight the ball dips and swerves in, generally towards the front pad. When that happens, you know they're coming out of his hand well. In conditions such as he has met in Sri Lanka - "ideal," he says - where the ball might grip and skid and turn, he can even get a decent, loopy leggie going. The dismissal of Thilan Samaraweera at the Premadasa could not have looked better had it come in whites, with a red ball.

Nobody is sure quite how many variations he does possess probably not even himself, but there are enough. On those good days, if he gets a wicket early, he is trouble for the best sides; Associates like Kenya and Canada have little hope. He is all over you, in spirit the fast bowler his ethnicity almost demands him to be. On these days, he'll follow through further than most fast bowlers.

Against Canada he even brought back his legendary faster ball and one, clocked at 80mph, was quicker than anything Canada bowled all day. He once got Greg Blewett with one in the Australia tri-series of 1997-98 that hit the stumps before Blewett had even thought about bringing his bat down. And there was once the bouncer to Brian Lara, followed by an air kiss.

Most relevantly, bowling is how Afridi leads best. There is still a basic defensiveness in strategy and tactic and orthodoxy in field settings, but with ball in hand or in the field, nobody makes more of their presence than him. Not to disrespect Inzamam-ul-Haq's captaincy, which had fine points to it, but how the Canada chase could have drifted under his own leadership in the field? Afridi just doesn't let a game go, even if he fumbles and slips and errs, he is very much there. Pakistan responds to that kind of visibility and energy.

This tournament is driving him, you can see that as clear as day. He wouldn't mind some help - and he will need it - if Pakistan are to go further. He has taken just under half of all wickets taken by the side in three games: 14 of 29. Others have bowled well but he has always looked the likeliest wicket-taker. That would be, we can now conclude, because he is.

Osman Samiuddin is Pakistan editor of ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • on March 10, 2011, 18:03 GMT

    HE HAS THE SAME PASSION THAT PAKISTAN TEAM USE TO HAVE IN 90's

  • waspsting on March 9, 2011, 19:56 GMT

    I've always rated Afridi a good ODI bowler - flat spin, a'le Kumble is tough to score off, or hit for sixes in front of the wicket. but he also turns it a bit, and bowls googlies, and can take wickets. I'm glad to see he's focusing on that.

    With the bat.. he is a potential match turner, but its a low percentage thing. you wouldn't be surprised to see him hit 30 in 18 balls, and seal a chase or turn a good total into a formidable one. But he's not consistent... couldn't get into the team purely on those 1 in 6 times performances.

    he's also possibly the best Pakistani fielder I've seen.

    All in all, you've got a top quality ODI cricketer

  • vipinchaudhary2325 on March 9, 2011, 16:54 GMT

    Afridi is gud bolwer... but where is Afridi( Boom Boom), If pakistan have to won this world cup, den they should pray that in every match, either Afridi or Razzak bats well.... coz their Top 3 Batsman r not so good

  • on March 9, 2011, 13:58 GMT

    May be he lost 1 match, but still he is a real hero........best of luck Afridi.........go ahead......Allah Malik................

  • Ghazanfarr on March 9, 2011, 8:56 GMT

    Aslamoualikum; Shahid Afridi is a realy such player who can change game situation any time by bowl and bat. in batting, only he did hurry if stay at wicket, the runs board is automatticaly move. and opposite team is pressurised in his presence at the wicket. i m and all my friends's prayers are with u in world cup. INSHALLAH, pakistan will win world cup by the bless of ALLAH.

  • true_cricket_fan on March 8, 2011, 22:10 GMT

    Afridi looked threatening against Kenya and Canada, but Osman maybe you should have held off this article until game against New Zealand! :) Not to say that Afridi and Pakistan won't bounce back, but they still have to play Australia and other big teams! Only other big team they have played until now is Sri Lanka..

  • on March 8, 2011, 20:43 GMT

    he is mindblowing bowler...captain...and batsmen....Love u afridi...<3

  • GANDAPUR on March 8, 2011, 19:41 GMT

    I am very surprised, why every one is saying that Pak is in the QF. They still need to win against ZMB, otherwise they are gone. Hypotheticallt Pak can miss QF. Razaq needs a better spot in batting and one of the opner should be replaced by a bowler.

  • cric_fanatics on March 8, 2011, 17:35 GMT

    a cricketer with batting avg of 23 and a bowling avg of 33 could be a star all rounder only for PAKISTAN..and dupe unsuspecting fans...he couldnt have played 50 matches even for bangladesh....

  • cric_fanatics on March 8, 2011, 17:27 GMT

    14 wickets against minnows..but afridi cant impact quality batsmen with his medium pace(no pun intended)...and as far as batting goes hes a poor mans yusuf pathan...my granny is more consistent than him...

  • on March 10, 2011, 18:03 GMT

    HE HAS THE SAME PASSION THAT PAKISTAN TEAM USE TO HAVE IN 90's

  • waspsting on March 9, 2011, 19:56 GMT

    I've always rated Afridi a good ODI bowler - flat spin, a'le Kumble is tough to score off, or hit for sixes in front of the wicket. but he also turns it a bit, and bowls googlies, and can take wickets. I'm glad to see he's focusing on that.

    With the bat.. he is a potential match turner, but its a low percentage thing. you wouldn't be surprised to see him hit 30 in 18 balls, and seal a chase or turn a good total into a formidable one. But he's not consistent... couldn't get into the team purely on those 1 in 6 times performances.

    he's also possibly the best Pakistani fielder I've seen.

    All in all, you've got a top quality ODI cricketer

  • vipinchaudhary2325 on March 9, 2011, 16:54 GMT

    Afridi is gud bolwer... but where is Afridi( Boom Boom), If pakistan have to won this world cup, den they should pray that in every match, either Afridi or Razzak bats well.... coz their Top 3 Batsman r not so good

  • on March 9, 2011, 13:58 GMT

    May be he lost 1 match, but still he is a real hero........best of luck Afridi.........go ahead......Allah Malik................

  • Ghazanfarr on March 9, 2011, 8:56 GMT

    Aslamoualikum; Shahid Afridi is a realy such player who can change game situation any time by bowl and bat. in batting, only he did hurry if stay at wicket, the runs board is automatticaly move. and opposite team is pressurised in his presence at the wicket. i m and all my friends's prayers are with u in world cup. INSHALLAH, pakistan will win world cup by the bless of ALLAH.

  • true_cricket_fan on March 8, 2011, 22:10 GMT

    Afridi looked threatening against Kenya and Canada, but Osman maybe you should have held off this article until game against New Zealand! :) Not to say that Afridi and Pakistan won't bounce back, but they still have to play Australia and other big teams! Only other big team they have played until now is Sri Lanka..

  • on March 8, 2011, 20:43 GMT

    he is mindblowing bowler...captain...and batsmen....Love u afridi...<3

  • GANDAPUR on March 8, 2011, 19:41 GMT

    I am very surprised, why every one is saying that Pak is in the QF. They still need to win against ZMB, otherwise they are gone. Hypotheticallt Pak can miss QF. Razaq needs a better spot in batting and one of the opner should be replaced by a bowler.

  • cric_fanatics on March 8, 2011, 17:35 GMT

    a cricketer with batting avg of 23 and a bowling avg of 33 could be a star all rounder only for PAKISTAN..and dupe unsuspecting fans...he couldnt have played 50 matches even for bangladesh....

  • cric_fanatics on March 8, 2011, 17:27 GMT

    14 wickets against minnows..but afridi cant impact quality batsmen with his medium pace(no pun intended)...and as far as batting goes hes a poor mans yusuf pathan...my granny is more consistent than him...

  • on March 8, 2011, 15:48 GMT

    Oh man i was so wanting Pakistan to take out NZ for this last game but at 123/7 and 180 more runs it is looking unlikely, :-) I am the biggest NZ fan of the Pakistan, even have their flag painted on my big toenails. team. I will always think of Afridi as the bomb, he rocks, his wicket taking is so impressive. Go Pakistan!!

  • Aussasinator on March 8, 2011, 14:57 GMT

    Afridi is certainly a major threat more with the ball than with the bat. best bowler in the side. Just like Ponting is the best fielder in the Australian side. Bpth have their core competencies well defined now!

  • Azizul_Bangladesh on March 8, 2011, 11:14 GMT

    Best of Luck. As we will not be able to reach final, hope our two neighbor pakistan and india will play the final game and one of them will be the world cup champaion.

  • SADDDY on March 8, 2011, 9:22 GMT

    Afridi has, undoubtedly, been performing as the key bowler for Pakistan and as statsguru shows, in the last coupple of years, he is the leading wicket taker for Pakistan yet very economical too and when it comes to batting, he trully is majestic. Nonetheless his role as a captain, the way he turned the group of individuals into a team, is really impreesive yet imperative to bring back the glory...

  • Whothehell on March 8, 2011, 8:55 GMT

    if i remember correctly, ramiz raja said this long time ago. "He is a bowler who is learning to bat" were his words to be exact...

    But what a bowler he has turned to be at this world cup... i am sure ramiz never thought he was this good as a bowler...

  • pikki on March 8, 2011, 8:43 GMT

    Afridi is the most destructive limited overs cricketer in the world period. SUPERSTAR

  • on March 8, 2011, 8:39 GMT

    boom boom Afridi.................................

  • on March 8, 2011, 8:27 GMT

    He is a better bowler and the only reason he was enrolled in to the side was due to his spin bowling which most of the people had overlook. If Pakistan play as a unit and play for a win then I do not find any reason why Pakistan does not make it to the final.

  • on March 8, 2011, 8:20 GMT

    Nice thoughts Osman, I do agree that Afridi has currently taken the role of a front line strike bowler for Pakistan. However, the situation might not last longer and specially against the teams like Australia and India, he will need definite support from his quick bowlers and specialist spinners !

  • duck_season on March 8, 2011, 8:09 GMT

    Yes he has become a very canny limited overs bowler, however that does not excuse the lack of maturity in his batting. It doesn't matter whether you are opening or batting at 11, you need to do the team thing. The way he throws his wicket away going for the slog after only facing 3 or 4 balls when there are 15 overs left to bat, is not good enough for such a hugely experienced player.

  • Rocking_Pakistan on March 8, 2011, 7:54 GMT

    no doubt he is a bowling all rounder but everyone knows that he is as dangerous as a batsman as no one is ..!

    captains and bowlers always get afraid and forced to think sharply when he is at the crease so it suggest that his fear is still there doesn't matter he is performing or not.

    thats what boom boom is all about ..!

  • toor.786 on March 8, 2011, 7:52 GMT

    Osman there is conflict. yes, i agree with omar malik that he is not only a bowler but bowling allrounder. he has scored 11 centuries and 39 fifties in the Tests and ODIs, which bowler is holding record like him. he is genuinely a big hitter of the ball and can explode any time against any bowling nation.

  • on March 8, 2011, 7:50 GMT

    Wait and see.... Today he will rock against New Zealand as a all-rounder. Booom Boom

  • 12kris on March 8, 2011, 7:45 GMT

    Notjust because of Afridi, but because of Gul, Shoab, Shehsad, and Misbah and Ajmal, Pakistan is a very strong contender-Inshah Allah!

  • on March 8, 2011, 7:23 GMT

    osman saheb - your contribution to excellent journalism is equal to afridis contribution to Pakistan cricket today. Thank you.

  • on March 8, 2011, 7:20 GMT

    He is a genuine all rounder, he is one of his kind, at the beginning of his career he was admired for his batting genius, of course people at that time didn't consider it a genius but with more and more rising of T20 cricket he surely will be talked very high in the future for the genius he was, and now near the end of his career his bowling is been admired. One thing that stands out in this man is his aggression, aggression in its rawest form.

  • on March 8, 2011, 7:19 GMT

    We love u Afridi......................................................

  • kunalhbhatt on March 8, 2011, 7:17 GMT

    Hi I m INDIAN.... But I can say that afridi is a world best ODI bowler. No one stand in front of him....He is better then warne, murli n bhajji.......Bcoz batsman like sachin n sehwag have problem plying afridi, it mean no one in this world can play him except gambhir n yusuf pathan.....

  • My_XI_Warriors on March 8, 2011, 7:03 GMT

    AFRIDI, we want you to score fastest 100 and a FIVE wickets haul once again., GOD bless you.

  • on March 8, 2011, 7:00 GMT

    Mostly as players mature their bowling fades and batting improves. In Afridi's case exactly the opposite has happened. I can't think of anyone else quite like that. I think extreme pressure to be "boom boom" with the bat has led to deterioration in his batting.

  • on March 8, 2011, 6:54 GMT

    one of the most liveliest characters the game will ever see.. Legend!

  • Shaikh-s on March 8, 2011, 6:47 GMT

    Well i guess his bowling is taken over his batting over last one year he is been bowling he is been bowling with lots of veriety and accuracy there has been lots of difference between the afridi of 2003 WC and now when Symond belted him for many. Now there is lots of gile and ceaft in bowling.As far as battings goes there nothing change often sparks of hitting nothing else but off course he is capable of playing big inning any time.

  • on March 8, 2011, 6:45 GMT

    Yes, its a good article, lets hope afridi fires with ball and bat today along with everyone else too cause one man can change the match but one man cannot win the entire match. Others have to chip in with batting, bowling and fielding...

  • rzi-BDML on March 8, 2011, 6:33 GMT

    He will lift the Trophy in Mumbai, Insha Allah

  • siddharth_WC2011 on March 8, 2011, 6:33 GMT

    good article by Osman, indeed Afridi has matured as a player and I like the attitude he brings to the team. It is always the bowlers who can win you matches in tight situations and I think Pakistan have the right artillery to win this WC.

  • sathishkrish on March 8, 2011, 6:27 GMT

    still feel he can open the innings, especially with the current state of openers. even if he manages a quickfire 30-40 that is enough to demoralize the opposition bowlers before Younis and Misbah can take it forward.

  • on March 8, 2011, 6:26 GMT

    I refuse to believe Afridi when he says he is a bowler first. In the 20/20 final in 2009 he played a mature little innings and went kaboom in the end. He can definitely play such an innings. I even believe he should be a test player. He is just scared to rise to the occasion. Something is mentally tumbling him over.

  • on March 8, 2011, 6:19 GMT

    Afridi may have delivered as a bowler for the span mentioned out here but he has really struggled against India. Every time he has bowled, especially since 2004-05 against India, both his strike rate and economy rate have been below par.

  • AdityaUpadhyay on March 8, 2011, 6:13 GMT

    Afridi has improved as a bowler in leaps & bounds. The way he has been performing as a bowler is mindblowing . He is bringing his atttitude to the team & that is the best thing can happened to pakistan cricket which is a hurt side

  • Imthiyaz on March 8, 2011, 6:05 GMT

    Osman ur words are very impressive, i like it !

  • on March 8, 2011, 6:02 GMT

    BOOM BOOM another 5 wkt haul today against the NZ please

  • Nautika on March 8, 2011, 5:57 GMT

    The top order will flourish if Shafiq is drafted into the playing XI. How many more chances Shehzad needs??

  • on March 8, 2011, 5:37 GMT

    We have found captaincy where we least expected to find it. Imran Khan's captaincy made him a responsible pillar in the batting order, and Afridi's captaincy has made him an irreplaceable middle overs strike bowler. It takes a lot to become Imran Khan but Afridi has shown that he, like the great man, can LEAD FROM THE FRONT. He can walk into any team as a bowler. If he starts "batting" as well, the opposition will just cry for mercy. But its funny nonetheless, to see him insist he's a bowler, because Pakistanis will never let him escape the "boom boom" tag.

  • on March 8, 2011, 5:36 GMT

    I agree 100%, I guess Afridi hasnt evaluated himself like Osman did. Afridi has 6 centuries because from 1996 to 2000 he was forcefully sent as an opener. He failed more than he succeeded and he cant just play the new ball and seam movement. His batting average of 24 doesnt indicate his talent because he is prone to falling early in his innings. We may have called him a batting allrounder, had his avg been 32+ (like Styris, Collingwood etc). Cut it short.....He is a bowler, who can slog once in 4 ODIs (he will get out cheaply in the other 3). If he fails in batting that shouldnt hurt Pakistan because he should come at 8, after Razzak. But if he succeeds .... O Lord have mercy on the opposition. Keep it Simple Boom Boom Fans ..... let Afridi accept and play his role, just like Osman described. All Hail Boom Boom !!!

  • on March 8, 2011, 5:27 GMT

    Completely agree, Afridi is genuine match winner and I guess most popular player of pakistan now days.

  • AB99 on March 8, 2011, 5:21 GMT

    Afridi is a very good bowler and a decent low order hitter. He needs to bat against Indian bowlers to get his batting back in place ... remember what he did to Mohanty and Prasad some years back?

  • ishrqe on March 8, 2011, 4:49 GMT

    pak-1.kamran 2.shahzad 3.afridi 4.younus 5.misbah 6.hafeez 7.umar 8.razzaq 9.gul 10.ajmal 11.akthar

  • on March 8, 2011, 4:42 GMT

    No matter how good his bowling gets, his batting when it comes off is a spectacle beyond words. Anyway why is he called Lala, seems not macho enuf for him.

  • Saqib_Sheraz on March 8, 2011, 4:41 GMT

    don't forget that he have a secret weapon, direct hit from anywhere of the ground straight to the stumps.

  • on March 8, 2011, 4:38 GMT

    He is all-rounder and also a very good fielder.

  • on March 8, 2011, 4:18 GMT

    Afridi is superman.......I want 1 fifty & 1 hundred,another 5 wkts with New Zeland and Australia.

  • on March 8, 2011, 4:13 GMT

    I want to one fifty & another 5 wkts by Afridi with New Zeland.

  • AB2207 on March 8, 2011, 4:00 GMT

    He is just one bite away from pressing the self destruct button. So lets not build the eulogy too soon

  • UltimateCricExpert on March 8, 2011, 3:28 GMT

    AFRIDI a real nightmare bowler for ASSOCIATE teams......

  • mehmudah on March 8, 2011, 2:59 GMT

    Osman its impossible to stop reading you once i start... as usual, good analysis. Just hope Afridi can keep performing and the bowling form stays.. and yeah a good innings with the bat might not hurt either...

  • on March 8, 2011, 0:10 GMT

    Osman I agree with you about the bowler bit. Afridi is and will be a bowler first. But it is very naive to call him just a bowler. He is a bowling allrounder. Look at his stats, he has 6 centuries. Which bowler in the world has that. No sir, he is not just a bowler, he is a bowling allrounder and quite a good one at that.

  • on March 7, 2011, 23:50 GMT

    Afridi has not only been performing since January 2008...infact HE WAS THE MAN OF THE TOURNAMENT IN THE FIRST T20 WORLD CUP in 2007( only because of bowling) and if you recall the same Afridi started taking wickets in 2004 under Inzamam as captain.

  • on March 7, 2011, 23:22 GMT

    Boom boom!! He will get us the trophy single handedly.. INSHALLAH

  • psu19976 on March 7, 2011, 22:41 GMT

    shehzad out, shafiq in!!!!!!!!

  • on March 7, 2011, 22:26 GMT

    Man, your really taking the words out of my brain ;) and your spot on.

  • mepradhan on March 7, 2011, 21:55 GMT

    well.. i d still want to see his BOOM BOOM every now and then. He is the one who brings cricket into life by his style.

  • on March 7, 2011, 21:35 GMT

    Well written article, may have more insight into afridi than afridi himself. Still feel however, if he could go back to opening in odi/T20, he will enjoy himself up there and provide some fireworks to start them off. Remember the T20 WC, he promoted himself to no 3 batting position....paid off pretty well for Pak

  • on March 7, 2011, 21:33 GMT

    "And there was once the bouncer to Brian Lara, followed by an air kiss. " Lol Loved the piece! Go LALA!

  • kashmd on March 7, 2011, 21:30 GMT

    Finally Finally...he is officially acknowledged by the media that he is a bowler!!! the media for their own reasons always been in denial. i say thank you osman for finally giving the recognition to this champion one day leg break bowler. If it was acknowledged before he could have easily been a part of test team as a specialist bowler.

  • on March 7, 2011, 20:44 GMT

    He is bowling genius, not only in this world cup 2011!

  • Malik77 on March 7, 2011, 20:39 GMT

    A very insightful and sagacious article. Finally somebody see the real talent in Afridi, that is why he was brought in ODI's side, an unorthodox legsppiner who could be a pinch hitter. But like the author said it is the curse of that first unbelievable innings that has kept coming back to haunt him. I have always been a big fan of Afridi the bowler and his stats prove him worthy of being in side on his bowling skills alone. In fact it his bowling ability that has kept him in the game for so long.

  • on March 7, 2011, 20:39 GMT

    Aridi has turned out to be the most aggressive and successful bowler, but he is underrated just because he wears green!

  • on March 7, 2011, 20:01 GMT

    great article , but i still feel if afridi contributes with the bat he can make an even greater contribution to the side..... during the world cup it doesnt seem hes rying hard enough with the bat though.

  • Umair_umair on March 7, 2011, 19:45 GMT

    Alas, no one mentioned him as a Test Spinner. If he would have thought himself as a bowler in the tests. It would have taken off a lot of pressure off him, the pressue of failure in batting , because of which he retired from Tests.

    Hope we can see him in tests, though, occasionally, perhaps on the Sub con wickets atleast?

  • on March 7, 2011, 19:44 GMT

    GO boom boom , win us the World Cup and bring Cricket back in Pakistan =)

  • omairhameed on March 7, 2011, 19:43 GMT

    he is going in for the fastest of his deliveries ... breaking the 130 km/hr ... bet ;)

  • sunnymachoo on March 7, 2011, 19:23 GMT

    Good article! But I think Boom Boom Afridi will always be remembered as the magic batsman who makes the ball disappear on the touch with his bat and then asks one of the spectators to look behind the stands - and there we find the ball! Probably the best cricket entertainer of the current age!

  • Hassan.Farooqi on March 7, 2011, 19:09 GMT

    He always says he is basically a bowler. Whenever we settle down and start believing him, he comes up with his old spark. For example he scored two consecutive 50's in T20 worldcup of 2009 when it really mattered i.e. in the semi final and the final.

  • on March 7, 2011, 19:01 GMT

    Well said & Superb performance by Boom Boom …

  • gladtobehere81 on March 7, 2011, 18:53 GMT

    Absolutely....good article...Afridi has realised that and I guess he will perform well with bat if that expectation is not on his shoulder. Do the best in which you are best and for Afridi that is his bowling, and for sure he can be murderous with bat as well. But he is setting up an expectation that he is more of a bowler, and will get in to the team anytime just on his bowling capabilities. If he bats and perform,thats icing on a cake. And for Pakistani Cricket History, it is well known fact that bowling captains have lead their team better than the batting captain. See you performing soon with bat - but not against India :)

  • on March 7, 2011, 18:49 GMT

    bEst Of Luckk grEEn sHrtssss

  • on March 7, 2011, 18:47 GMT

    A very well written article. I always hated him because of his immature behavior but man the other day against Canada, it wasn't Canada vs Pakistan but Afridi. Just when most if not all of his men had psychologically lost the game to Canada, it was Afridi still standing between. I believe with this form, will to perform and hunger to hunt down opponents, Afridi is going to take his side quite a long way into the competition.

  • on March 7, 2011, 18:39 GMT

    i hope or wish Afridi could read this ! great Article Osman!!

  • boristheblade on March 7, 2011, 18:28 GMT

    excellent article!! captures afridi's role in the team perfectly. but i dont think the boom boom legacy will ever go away. its what gives him the star persona and no matter what he says, he thrives on that. that kind of fan following certainly inspires him on the field and hence he can pull-off that showmanship in the field

  • keneha on March 7, 2011, 18:26 GMT

    afridi u simply rock......!!! Pakistan Zindabad!!

  • on March 7, 2011, 18:09 GMT

    that is the scariest part bcuz throughout his whole career, never once did i remember that he has been such an awesome wicket taker in 3 consecutive matches!! so to plan ur bowling around him seems a foolish thing to do... atleast to me...for me its a very defensive strategy to play 8 batsmen (down to Abdul Razzaq)... they shud drop 1 batsman (preferably Ahmed shehzad) and bring in junaid khan. in this way the will add a variety to their bowling

  • tanvir221313 on March 7, 2011, 18:04 GMT

    AFRIDI IS A GREAT MEN..................he is one of the most exiting batsmen of the world

  • anah on March 7, 2011, 17:42 GMT

    What do you have to say about the bolwer (AFRIDI) who has hit the most number of sixes???

  • zain.ul.abideen on March 7, 2011, 17:26 GMT

    I strongly disagree with the idea that he's a bowler, not a bowling allrounder.

    Look at his batting stats, Man! he's got more than 3000 runs. OK he's a bowler first, but you can't say thats it. Although i would agree with you if you said that Razzak should come in the batting line up before him. Razzaq to me is more of a batting allrounder.

  • on March 7, 2011, 17:17 GMT

    I've always 'loved' Afridi, not for his firebrand batting or cutting-edge bowling, but for his attitude in field. He always reminds me of Javed Miandad, and is always a positive force in the field. His bowling resembles that of the late Wasim Raja, who, too, was a partnership breaker. Seeing Wasim bat was a treat too, and I wonder how many of us can remember his flamboyant style. Without Afridi, cricket is as dull as 'Jack with no play'. Hats of to the most colorful cricketer in the world today.

  • on March 7, 2011, 17:14 GMT

    Let's remind what Imran Khan said before the tournament began. That:

    Afridi is a kind of player at the moment that he can get through Pakistan in this world cup. Afridi should be considered as a bowler not as a batsman. Whatever runs he may score should be considered as a bonus.

    Afridi does have a advising session with Imran before the world cup. I imagine Imran Khan must have suggested him focus on his bowling. Moreover, IK had given two other advice. For the first five position in batting order should be given to specialist batsman; and any planning regarding batting must be revolved around Younis Khan and Misbah. I think this the reason Afridi has stucked to Hafeez and Shahzad despite their failure. Now I think Razzaq and Kamran batting positions should be swapped.

  • ArsalanMujahidGhouri on March 7, 2011, 17:13 GMT

    Afridi's every performance is just a FLUKE to me !

  • on March 7, 2011, 17:13 GMT

    Almost 300 sixes and 6000 odi runs at a strike rate above 100 still suggest he is no mug with the bat!

    The best way to describe him is that he excels at that which excites him - on any given day it could be bat or ball. Heaven help the opponents on the day he is excited by both!

  • BICHU77 on March 7, 2011, 17:11 GMT

    still he is capable with his bat....on his day he can spoil any bowling attack and it will be in the back of their mind of all the bowlers who bowled to him....waiting for him to bounce back with the bat as well....

  • GullyBully on March 7, 2011, 17:09 GMT

    I like the new Afridi. If only (as captain) he can ease off on micromanaging his bowlers by hassling with them with his directives during their spell...place greater trust in his bowlers to do their job and not bug them when they bowl...

  • Cricket_Master_Mind on March 7, 2011, 16:54 GMT

    Good one, Yeh i heard Afridi saying " I dont know why people forget about my boweling when they criticizes me. They judge me only with bat" He is a fine bowler. But he will bat well only if its his day. But at the end of the day He is the most exciting cricketer ever. People turns on when he comes to bat or ball, he is a Real entertainer.

  • gpbhat on March 7, 2011, 16:53 GMT

    Nicely written Osman... The new look Pakistan team seem to have pushed past the recent turmoil and has a good chance in this WC. That is definitely good for world cricket - Although I hope India clinches the cup ;)

  • on March 7, 2011, 16:37 GMT

    Not to mention that Afridi came in the national side as a bowler.It was after that he came into the team that he started performing as a batsman..

  • samab_bhai on March 7, 2011, 16:21 GMT

    a bowler...............................................

  • GANDAPUR on March 7, 2011, 16:00 GMT

    Well I agree. If this is the case then he should come at 8 and not 7. I am a big fan of him and Pak cricket but then Razaq should get better chance if he thinks he is not a good batsman to score 35+ regularly.

  • osm73 on March 7, 2011, 15:45 GMT

    So if it's true that he's a bowler who can bat, than he himself must be cognizant of this fact more than anyone else. Why, then, he comes to bat on a batting position higher than Abdul Razzaq? A. Razzaq is a kind of batter (if a layperson can figure this out, I'm sure Afridi, Waqar, and team management are shrew enough to know this) who needs a few overs to settle down and then he can be devastating for the opposition. I hope they realize this before it's too late. So far Razzaq's role has been that of an onlooker, largely.

  • HamzaGulKaliya on March 7, 2011, 15:34 GMT

    Afridi is the best :) he will break mcgrath's 26 wicket record in group stages insha allah :)

  • 123456789sharath on March 7, 2011, 15:30 GMT

    time to take him in the test team as a bowler!!!!!!!

  • on March 7, 2011, 15:25 GMT

    Well Osman has got it wrong. Everybody who says Afridi is a bowler is wrong. His batting is always special. forgot the innings against Sri Lanka in last year world cup (when he took Pakistan from 32-4 to within 30 odd runs with 4 wickets in hand), his 56* on 26 balls against the likes of McGrath and Lee in Hobart (Jan, 2005) two half-centuries at ICC world T20 2009. Its he himself who is ruining his batting. If he has to play 6,7 balls at number 7 position, then why doesnt he come at No.3 if he will get out, it wont make any difference, but if he bats for more than 5 overs, game is half over...He plays spin better than anyone right now (remember his 5 sixes against Sri Lanka in innings I mentioned earlier)

  • on March 7, 2011, 15:25 GMT

    I have never liked Afridi's batting at all. He has picked up the habit of quickly going back to pavilion out of sheer intolerance and recklessness. 99.9% he gets himself back in the comfort zone and his team in the danger zone because of his poor shot selection and the not the smartness of bowler or pitch conditions. Not only that but he is also responsible of throwing cautions to the wind on crunch situation, again with his ignorance. How many times he has doomed his team with his 'doom doom' batting. Playing over 300 ODIs and with the average of not even 25 is something grasp hard to swallow.

    Yet this transformation of Afridi is quite refreshing and beneficial for the team. All I could pray that he and performs well for the side and bring backs the coveted sculpture to home.

  • on March 7, 2011, 15:12 GMT

    Move over superman. Shahid Afridi is here.

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  • on March 7, 2011, 15:12 GMT

    Move over superman. Shahid Afridi is here.

  • on March 7, 2011, 15:25 GMT

    I have never liked Afridi's batting at all. He has picked up the habit of quickly going back to pavilion out of sheer intolerance and recklessness. 99.9% he gets himself back in the comfort zone and his team in the danger zone because of his poor shot selection and the not the smartness of bowler or pitch conditions. Not only that but he is also responsible of throwing cautions to the wind on crunch situation, again with his ignorance. How many times he has doomed his team with his 'doom doom' batting. Playing over 300 ODIs and with the average of not even 25 is something grasp hard to swallow.

    Yet this transformation of Afridi is quite refreshing and beneficial for the team. All I could pray that he and performs well for the side and bring backs the coveted sculpture to home.

  • on March 7, 2011, 15:25 GMT

    Well Osman has got it wrong. Everybody who says Afridi is a bowler is wrong. His batting is always special. forgot the innings against Sri Lanka in last year world cup (when he took Pakistan from 32-4 to within 30 odd runs with 4 wickets in hand), his 56* on 26 balls against the likes of McGrath and Lee in Hobart (Jan, 2005) two half-centuries at ICC world T20 2009. Its he himself who is ruining his batting. If he has to play 6,7 balls at number 7 position, then why doesnt he come at No.3 if he will get out, it wont make any difference, but if he bats for more than 5 overs, game is half over...He plays spin better than anyone right now (remember his 5 sixes against Sri Lanka in innings I mentioned earlier)

  • 123456789sharath on March 7, 2011, 15:30 GMT

    time to take him in the test team as a bowler!!!!!!!

  • HamzaGulKaliya on March 7, 2011, 15:34 GMT

    Afridi is the best :) he will break mcgrath's 26 wicket record in group stages insha allah :)

  • osm73 on March 7, 2011, 15:45 GMT

    So if it's true that he's a bowler who can bat, than he himself must be cognizant of this fact more than anyone else. Why, then, he comes to bat on a batting position higher than Abdul Razzaq? A. Razzaq is a kind of batter (if a layperson can figure this out, I'm sure Afridi, Waqar, and team management are shrew enough to know this) who needs a few overs to settle down and then he can be devastating for the opposition. I hope they realize this before it's too late. So far Razzaq's role has been that of an onlooker, largely.

  • GANDAPUR on March 7, 2011, 16:00 GMT

    Well I agree. If this is the case then he should come at 8 and not 7. I am a big fan of him and Pak cricket but then Razaq should get better chance if he thinks he is not a good batsman to score 35+ regularly.

  • samab_bhai on March 7, 2011, 16:21 GMT

    a bowler...............................................

  • on March 7, 2011, 16:37 GMT

    Not to mention that Afridi came in the national side as a bowler.It was after that he came into the team that he started performing as a batsman..

  • gpbhat on March 7, 2011, 16:53 GMT

    Nicely written Osman... The new look Pakistan team seem to have pushed past the recent turmoil and has a good chance in this WC. That is definitely good for world cricket - Although I hope India clinches the cup ;)