Osman Samiuddin
Sportswriter at the National

Afridi: a Pakistani sort of hero

Enlightenment and order take a walk when he delivers the rare performance that brings the country together like nothing else can

Osman Samiuddin

March 3, 2014

Comments: 108 | Text size: A | A

Shahid Afridi roars after hitting the winning six, India v Pakistan, Asia Cup, Mirpur, March 2, 2014
You have to see it to believe it © AFP
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Players/Officials: Shahid Afridi
Series/Tournaments: Asia Cup
Teams: Pakistan

I'm quite enjoying this stats assault from the Asia Cup broadcaster. Some of it is a bit much, especially when they veer into, you know, real statistics and start messing with probabilities (Pakistan may win 78% of matches in which Mohammad Hafeez takes two wickets and scores 30 or more, but if he's taken 2 for 78 in a total of 360 and got out for 30, then that percentage is pretty pointless). Mostly, though, it has been refreshing and has saved us all the hassle of getting on Statsguru during a match.

What I wanted it to do on Sunday night was tell me about Shahid Afridi. I wanted it to tell me about Afridi and the last five balls for which he was on the pitch. I wanted to be shown fancy numbers about the likelihood of Pakistan winning after Afridi crosses over off the last ball of the penultimate over to get off strike and not being there for the first ball of the last over when 10 are needed, two wickets are in hand and he is the man charged with winning it. And then when, because of him, Saeed Ajmal is bowled off the very first ball and that leaves Afridi needing, at best, 9 off four balls. And then Junaid Khan picking up the most important single in Pakistan's history since Tauseef Ahmed did. The chances of that single itself could not have been very high, given his last ten innings: 2 not out, 0, 4, 0, 4, 1 not out, 0 not out, 1 not out, 0, 1 not out.

But the real figure I wanted to see was the probability of two familiar and successive Afridi mistimed hits going for six, in the last over, winning a game, winning the game to win (the Asia Cup merely being an excuse to see Pakistan play India). What were the chances, eh? Of that scythe over extra cover (ish) and that cross-batted heave that somehow goes towards long-on (ish) going over the rope, when they both for so long held the same illusory quality that Misbah-ul-Haq's paddle in Johannesburg in 2007 did? They had to drop into a fielder's hands, right? At least one? When they fell over it felt like only a great surge of belief and prayer had pushed them over. Where, I asked, were the calculations of this scenario?

Every time Afridi wins with the bat, and not necessarily the match itself, Enlightenment has lost. And you know what? The Age of Ignorance throws a pretty mean party. I don't mind that cricket has become more meticulous and better-planned, that coaches generate and deploy vast amounts of data in pursuit of a workable, repeatable formula for success. That broadcasters throw all kinds of information at me. In his own way, even Misbah has tried to take Pakistan into, if not the age of reason, then one of relative order and calm at least. Bless him, post-match he even tried to ascribe Afridi's innings to a plan. It is natural in something that is taken so seriously as sport.

But it's good to know that chaos cannot be permanently defeated, no matter how much we try to order ourselves. It's good to know that even the Deep Blue supercomputers in English cricket's country-sized backroom can be made redundant. (Incidentally, the last Pakistani to win a game against India by one wicket with a six in the last over - Javed Miandad, in case you'd forgotten, or are dead - said that his brain was working like a computer that day). Some things we cannot know or plan for, and many things we cannot account for, ever. Oxygen plays a big part in keeping us alive but I'd venture that this not knowing, not understanding and the search to change that is vital too. Else what are we here for? And if too often at the end of our striving to know, to understand, we come to heartache and strife, then the joy of coming to as inexplicable an incident as Afridi winning a game against India with the bat in the last over is a joy that cannot be matched.

To know it has happened once and to anticipate being alive the day it happens again is what makes Afridi's batting so compelling. Not too many people will have seen that first, record-breaking hundred he made in Nairobi in 1996, or not live at least. But the thought of seeing something as plain ridiculous as that? I was in Kanpur the day he made that 45-ball hundred against India in 2005. I saw it with my eyes and I couldn't believe what he had done. I got an SMS from Rahul Bhattacharya shortly after the innings and it being a decade and several handsets later, I recreate as best as memory can. "I never could believe the Nairobi hundred was true because I couldn't imagine a 37-ball hundred, but now I can." In other words, you have to see it to believe it, but I would also venture reversing that, especially for Pakistanis who have waited for Afridi's every innings to be so: you have to really believe that he can do it, for the payoff of seeing it.

I recently wrote a piece for ESPNcricinfo's anthology on Sachin Tendulkar. Towards the end, what struck me most about Tendulkar, much more than his batting, was his status as an unqualified hero. In Pakistan I always felt - and loved the fact - that we consider heroes to be a figment of the imagination, a whimsy of the privileged in a hard, mean world. Using Jinnah, the Bhuttos, and the Khans, Jahangir and Imran, to illustrate this tendency, I argued that Pakistan didn't, or couldn't, have the kind of hero Tendulkar was.

Fool was I to not even consider Afridi, who represents something about the modern soul of Pakistan as vividly as anybody. No current cricketer in Pakistan is as popular. He has many, many detractors, sure, and many who don't take him at all seriously. But who else has, in the last decade, brought an entire country together this exhilaratingly as often as Afridi, even if it isn't nearly as often as we'd like? Maybe he isn't a hero but today, on a day that marks five years of the darkest doom to have struck Pakistan cricket, he has managed to make Pakistan fret about it a little less, even if briefly. If that is not heroic then I'm not sure what is.

PS: Because this is what everyone should do, my personal favourite of the 34 runs (one for each year of his age, neatly) was the sweep (!), stepping outside off stump to Bhuvneshwar Kumar in the 47th over, to place it between square leg and short fine leg. I saw it and I still don't believe it.

Osman Samiuddin is a sportswriter at the National

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Posted by ahsanjabbar on (March 8, 2014, 14:51 GMT)

Last time WorldCup in Australia (1992) a Khan did it for Pakistan ! Fast Forward 2015 it can be another Khan again do the magic (Australia Lucky for Pakistan!) Viv, Gayle, Gilchrist, Hayden, Yuvi, Dhoni, Jayasuriya, Klusener, Razzak n Afridi form a formidable entertainment package of Top 10 cleanest-hitters in Cricket History!

Posted by   on (March 6, 2014, 15:20 GMT)

lala at his prime in destroying

Posted by   on (March 6, 2014, 12:30 GMT)

cricket will produce more batsman like brian lara,sachin,ricky ponting but will not entertainer like shahid afridi.he is great.

Posted by eng_mdkhan on (March 6, 2014, 5:38 GMT)

@ Sumit Narang.........if you think Sachin is God (as it comes natural for you to make almost anything and everything God) it does not mean everybody else does the same. Sachin was an extremely talented player no doubt, but Sachin can never be Afridi or vice versa both have their own standing in world cricket but Afridi is definitely more charismatic than Sachin.

Posted by   on (March 6, 2014, 4:51 GMT)

Afridi is very much famous, very much liked and at the same time very much criticised for what he is. Over all he is a great cricketer and moreover , a great entertainer.

Anyone buys a ticket to watch a cricket match or rather can afford to spare almost 8 to 9 hours to watch the match, deserves to be entertained. And as far as the cricketing world is concerned, the only man that has ever and always entertained, in a cricket match, is Afridi and him alone.

Nobody would spend his/her hard earned money or waste 8 to 9 hours to watch a batsman make a hundred in300 odd balls. I definitely would not rate him as an entertainer. Everyone wants excitement and entertainment - and it is only Shahid Afridi who can and has,for so many years, provided to the cricket loving spectators.

Lara and Sachin, well they are big names - but Afridi is a name nobody can ever deny or love to hate.

Posted by   on (March 6, 2014, 2:50 GMT)

Very nice and motivating article by Osman. keep it up

Posted by msharif911 on (March 5, 2014, 22:48 GMT)

Great article and it was an exhilarating innings. But Afridi and Tendulkar are not comparable. Its like the tortoise vs the hare. Sure the tortoise won the race, but the hare is far more exciting.

Back to Afridi, this is the long awaited innings. Every time he goes out to bat this is what we are waiting for. When he doesnt deliver, we are disheartened. When he went out for this innings I thought "we cant win this, the guy is a loser" and just like Pakistan, the Mercurial team, he surprises us when we least expect it.

Dont forget, there is only one letter difference between Hero and Zero.

Posted by   on (March 5, 2014, 21:31 GMT)

I agree that Tendulkar was obviously a very consistent batsman for india, but thats what we love about afridi and thats what makes him and the Pakistani team in general all such big heroes - their unpredictability !!! Pakistan zindabad !

tendulkar may be a hero for indians but he's retired, and wasnt there to save india from our much bigger hero afridi and his massive sixes !!

Posted by   on (March 5, 2014, 20:45 GMT)

The sweep is someones favorite shot. Especially a hard bunt to leg. And the proverbial ''Aaaja''

Posted by Bilal_Choudry on (March 5, 2014, 20:10 GMT)

Perhaps only Pakistan produces players who will go for broke everytime ... Mcgrath is a prime example .. that guy could bowl at 90 miles an hour but didnt and relied on control .. a Pakistani would never do that .. they will go for 100 of 10 overs in search for that one memorable wicket ... same with afridi .. not many would remember best Inzi innings in karachi chasing 350 but everyone will remember afridi 100 in kanpur

Posted by   on (March 5, 2014, 17:59 GMT)

great afridi.......its nice to watch you bat...great entertainment

Posted by   on (March 5, 2014, 17:06 GMT)

Great article by osman Afridi is as popular as Sachin

Posted by   on (March 5, 2014, 14:28 GMT)

Pakistan zindabad...Shahid afridi zindabad

Posted by   on (March 5, 2014, 13:18 GMT)

Afridi is definataly a good player, one of his type.. but comparing him with sachin is baseless.. whatever Sachin is today is due ti his consistency and Afridi can never come near to him..

Posted by   on (March 5, 2014, 6:05 GMT)

Lovely words Osman. We need this kind of writes to know what we feel.

Posted by irfan0303 on (March 5, 2014, 5:27 GMT)

Afridi is best to win a match. Don't compare Tendulker with Afridi as whenever Tendulker made a hundred India lost that match :). But Afridi is HERO......... Love Afridi .......

Posted by   on (March 5, 2014, 3:47 GMT)

Usman had the courage to match Tendulker with Afridi. However, consistency in Tendulker & heroic "stunts" of Afridi in random can be read together because Afridi did his stunts not once but many a times. Today's cricket demands such heroic blasts for its viewers . write up by a deeply engrossed in the heroics of Afridi , Usman, is laudable.

Posted by InSINuATE on (March 5, 2014, 3:35 GMT)

Great article! Loved the insight. Would really like see more article from you Osman!

Posted by   on (March 4, 2014, 21:47 GMT)

nice article. no doubt he is unique and he is the hero of pakistan cricket. 1 thing we should realise that a good effort is praised by all so does a bad effort being criticized. cant gurantee some one will be 100% all the time. this is part and parcel of being a star that you get criticism when you are not doing well.

he was superb vs india. call it mishit or luck but bottom line is he won it for pak. but the real masterstroke was today against BD. no mishit and sensible battimg with force. this was also a great innings.

Posted by shinewindies on (March 4, 2014, 21:32 GMT)

mr osman, very nice article as usual from u, but comparing sachin with afridi was a bit over the top, from what i understood from your blog is heroes in pakistan need to be freaks, well all of us know afridi is one and we in india love him for that as we love pollard, gayle, peitersen, warner, mccullum etc, but we in india idolize cricketers with some sort of consistency when it comes to freaks, sachin for that matter was a consistent freak, i would not want to give instances(so many of them) as that would insult the old man but if any of your future blogs push me, i will. anyways loved the way afridi batted tday, seriously want pak to win asia cup from an indian fan.

Posted by Desihungama on (March 4, 2014, 20:23 GMT)

Osman - As mesmerizing those two sixes were you can't compare them to Miandad's innings - which changed the course of history for Pakistan Cricket for a decade to come. Before that we had an even contest with India. With the Sharjah victory, we went on to a winning spree against them from 1987-2003 - that is when Sachin killed us in the world cup match. However, it remains to be seen if those two sixes would have an impact on Pakistan Cricket but evidence just showed up against Bangladesh. And India should also be proud of the way they fought. It was Pakistan's game but India clawed back in so immense credit to them for their fighting spirit.

Posted by wapuser on (March 4, 2014, 20:14 GMT)

Boom Boom Afridi Charged Powered King Of The Cricket

Posted by   on (March 4, 2014, 19:37 GMT)

afridi has lion of Heart ♥♥♥

Posted by   on (March 4, 2014, 19:21 GMT)

i was thinkking about record of 100 in 35 balls but he couldn,t so next time ...... come on man we wanaa see you above every one afteralll ur the only player that i watch cricket in paksitan team ....

Posted by Jimmyvida on (March 4, 2014, 19:14 GMT)

In cricket at this level. boundaries ought to be standard. I hate to see before a game that boundaries are 48 m on one side, 54 m on another side. What does the rule book say about how far a boundary ought to be. If the field does not have the correct size, no game at this level should be played on that ground, period.

Posted by   on (March 4, 2014, 18:09 GMT)

Great Article

Agreed if Afridi was better managed would have must better stats but thats the big- draw back of politics filled Pakistan filled Cricket Board

Posted by   on (March 4, 2014, 17:30 GMT)

one of the best articles written about shaid afridi. he is a personal fav, for a die hard india fan. the fact that he sways and yo-yo's between genius and insanity with an ease bordering on despair, is alarming. at times i wonder if he was an indian, would he still be given the long rope... but while he lasts, its one lovely joy ride.

Posted by   on (March 4, 2014, 17:27 GMT)

He has done it again sir, would you believe it, two in two.

Posted by naveedriaz69 on (March 4, 2014, 16:47 GMT)

Afridi is the only cricketer who can take a match away in minutes from opposition AS WELL AS FROM HIS OWN TEAM. Beautifully written article.

Posted by   on (March 4, 2014, 16:39 GMT)

Boom Boom baby :) Nice article

Posted by   on (March 4, 2014, 13:37 GMT)

Afridi keeps stirring the charm and spirit of Cricket once or twice a year. Well said by somebody that players like Afridi represent not just their own country - but the Game as well.

Posted by   on (March 4, 2014, 13:03 GMT)

Nice job writing this article.. totally agree with your description of a Hero .. one who can unite the country with his mark of brilliance and bravery..and Afridi did that on 2nd march..only a lion heart could do that !

Posted by   on (March 4, 2014, 12:14 GMT)

A very unimpressive article. Didn't know where it was going. This is so unlike you Osman.

Posted by   on (March 4, 2014, 12:11 GMT)

Cricket is not cricket without afridi

Posted by   on (March 4, 2014, 11:43 GMT)

Afridi is still the real hero of world cricket

Posted by   on (March 4, 2014, 11:32 GMT)

Since my childhood, I ve seen generation over generation yearning for Afridi charisma

Posted by   on (March 4, 2014, 9:50 GMT)

Afridis stats would have been better had he been handled better by successive captains. He has figures which don't really do justice to his incredible talent. His prowess with the ball, the hand eye coordination of his batting and his presence in the field.

As an opener he would be in the same league as a Sehwag or Hayden....why has he not opened more often for Pakistan?

Posted by   on (March 4, 2014, 9:29 GMT)

A good article on cricket and Afridi.

Posted by   on (March 4, 2014, 9:05 GMT)

Last two paragraphs were awesomely written, specially shot on square leg. I still can't belief he hit it with so much ease. After last two sixes I can say "only Afridi can hit these two sixes!!"

Posted by   on (March 4, 2014, 9:04 GMT)

My fav pak cricketer after imran and wasim. Though not half as classy as other two, afridi represents his country. Volatile, boyish and brutishly charming.

Posted by muzika_tchaikovskogo on (March 4, 2014, 8:51 GMT)

Unlike most matches between the two countries in recent years, Sunday's game was a real humdinger. Its matches like that which make Cricket a truly unique game- the efforts of 8 hours boiling down to a few decisive moments. Hats off to Afridi for pulling it off with all the pressure in the world on his back and a huge thanks to both sides for producing such an unforgettable game (I'm an Indian fan)

Posted by WeeBee on (March 4, 2014, 8:38 GMT)

I enjoyed the article as i enjoyed the match ! Good Job Osman! ... Talking about Afridi , He has to do it once a year.

Posted by   on (March 4, 2014, 8:24 GMT)

@T20Fun

Thanks brother. I missed that point.

Posted by Rahul_78 on (March 4, 2014, 8:03 GMT)

Personally I immensely enjoyed the game and want to congratulate Pakistan team and people for a great victory. About Afridi I dont think he plans anything when he is batting and that is the glorious thing about him that never ceases to amaze us. Big contribution must have come from very good piece of willow in his hand and the amazing pathan power he posses. But the sheer audacity with which he pulled it off took everyone's breath away. I am very pleased with Kohlis captaincy also. Recently Indian team found it difficult to defend 300+ scores but his selection of Mishra and aggressive field placing to back his bowlers to take wickets came as breath of fresh air. For ones all the 5 Indian bowlers looked to take wickets. This augers well for the future. Last thing I doubt if anyone else apart from Afridi would have hit those last 2 sixes the effect on the Pak nation would have been the same. But who better then Afridi to emulate the great Miandad in the end!

Posted by   on (March 4, 2014, 8:02 GMT)

A heart touching article from Osman bhai, Afridi is beyond the cricketing books, a natural beauty with strong courage and will power, yes.... nothing else can be delightful than winning a match against india in last over with afridi's bat for Pakistanis.

Posted by Malik_Murad on (March 4, 2014, 7:38 GMT)

Great article by Osman. I am now more enthusiastic fan of cricket game after reading this superb article !

Posted by T20Fun on (March 4, 2014, 7:35 GMT)

@Ankur Saxena,

Agree with most of what you wrote except the last bit on point 2. Harsha Bhogle said they had taken stats from October 2012 because that was when the new ODI rules had come into force. It does make sense because those rules were supposed to kill spinners in ODIs but in the the Lanka game as well as the Pakistan game we saw spinners control the game to a large extent.

Posted by Oxonion on (March 4, 2014, 7:16 GMT)

An English journalist accompanying the england cricket team to Pakistan in 2005 once wrote back on the lines ...."just when i was sure the place was completely devoid of any entertainment, I bumped into two things that changed my opinion; one was the traffic flow on the round abouts and the second was a madman called Shahid Afridi who kept savaging the cricket ball and the english bowlers out of the parks for breakfast, lunch and dinner"... this was after Afridi had tonked 6 sixers and 6 fours in a 85 ball 92 in a test match ! To many, the waste this incredible talent has gone through, is Pakistan cricket's greatest tragedy, for he could ve been one of test crickets greatest allrounders! For the time being, entertainer he is, and a GOD gifted and a GOD helped one at that....Just ask Ashwin

Posted by pakricketer on (March 4, 2014, 7:12 GMT)

The sweep to the fast bowler is really unbelievable....This is really what AFRIDI can do....He read the slow bowl so early and swept that away so easily....Exactly the same was done with the last six....He knew that the ball will pitch on leg stump and he just made room to smack that over midwicket and we saw what happened even though it was miss-hit....Hey AFRIDI plz just be a bit more sensible as you have still lot to do for PAKISTAN........

Posted by wakaPAK on (March 4, 2014, 7:05 GMT)

People always underestimate the feats he achieved in limited over cricket... If we take limited over games (ODIs and T20s), he has got more Man of the match awards than other Pakistanis and 3rd in international cricket after Sachin and Jayasuria. You can not ignore these facts.

Posted by imtiazjaleel on (March 4, 2014, 6:31 GMT)

Shahid Afridi is great entertainer and had done enough for Pakistan. The problem with Afridi is his style of batting is same in all situations. He does not adapt to the situations and play accordingly. Sometimes he succeeds and most of the times he failed. Anyhow, when he succeeds then he becomes a HERO and at the same time if he fails will become a VILLAIN. Now, you have to look at how many matches PAK has lost and won becoz of him.

Posted by arsy81 on (March 4, 2014, 6:15 GMT)

First of all congrats to pakistan for such a memorable victory. Secondly i would like to say that why everybody expects Afridi to finish the game everytime or every match he plays? It is actually batsmen who should not let the game stretch to such extent that afridi would need to blaze fours and sixes. Even if he wins every 10th game he plays then i think its a good record for an All Rounder. Its not his duty to finish the game with bat or even with the ball and has never been for any all rounder. What everybody else is doing? And i dont agree that bcoz of him we have lost more matches than we have won. check the stats he has won more man of the match than any other pakistani player. You cannot expect him to win every match for us even the class players like Ricky ponting, Brian Lara, Sachin Tendulkar and even Dhoni have not won every match of their own. So stop making such comments.

Posted by   on (March 4, 2014, 6:01 GMT)

very good article Mr. Usman. i liked the words Afridi gel & bring the country together whenever he performs & has been doing so for the last decade & so. i don't understand why people use to criticize Shahid Afridi? a flammable boy, with careless & aggressive approach able to score more than 7500 runs with 378 wickets scoring 6 hundreds & 35 fifties, more than 40 Man of the matches, still he is not a legend? what else you want from a player to do for the country? he would have done much better with the bat what he has achieved until now?

Posted by bouncer709 on (March 4, 2014, 5:55 GMT)

@venkatesh018: You Indian fans know Afridi always do very bad with your team. Indian team have Ashvin. and Mishra as spin bowlers. how many matches they won for India with bating? Irfan pathan was your allrounder how many matches he won for India with his batting? They can not paly Afridi like inning in 100 matches...The problem in Pakistan team is not Afridi the problem is with other tailender they can not bat. Earlier in Pakistan team, we had Wasim, Razaaq, or Azhar Mehmood, and Afridi they all could bat. Before that we had Imran Khan with Wasim Akram.... But now only Afridi as a bowler who could bat..... The spot left by Razzaq is still not filled properly and that is the actual problem not Afridi.

Posted by   on (March 4, 2014, 5:50 GMT)

i dont understand why people compare one player with other. by no means afridi can be compared to the great tendulkar. afiridi is a good player but by noway he can even talked or discussed in the category of tendulkar. we have this habbit of like we compared inzi with great Viv. we have Ws, Shoib, Imran khan, Miandad, Qadir, Zaheer abbas, saeed anwar etc they can be compared but how come we compare afridi with tendulkar in terms of bieng hero of the nation. if this is the case then shakib ul hassan is the most wanted hero of bangladesh so compare his status with tendulkar as well. Afridi is a normal human who plays cricket his own way and loved and at the same time hated by the people so its just a normal thing, but he is nowhere near tendulkar

Posted by   on (March 4, 2014, 5:49 GMT)

I would like to mention that he(Afridi) has won Pak matches from a condition that no body on the earth would have won for their teams. Yes i do agree that on some occasions he might be the cause of loosing the matches. On this I would like to mention Tendulker, every body knows that there are many innings when Tendulker made good healthy centries but he could not make his team won the match so how on earth he can be one of greats. So guys calm down and make give him credit where it is due. I hope you ppl understand what i mean. I consider Afridi heroics more because it is against India.

Posted by   on (March 4, 2014, 5:18 GMT)

Dear Osman,

Point 1: Afridi is as much a darling in India as he is anywhere else in the world. Had these 2 sixes been hit by say Maqsood, Misbah or any other Pakistani, Indian fans would have been gutted. But coming from Afridi it changed the way we reacted. True we were heart-broken, but we didn't felt ashamed or any hatred towards a supposedly not-so-friendly state. All because Lala did it.

Point 2: About the Stats that the broadcaster were showing up. Irrelevant. All stats were 'Since Oct' 2012'. How can you predict or forecast how player/players, who have been playing since 2005 or earlier, will react by only looking at their stats till Oct;2012. The only reason why they were doing so is that they only got the broadcasting rights for BCCI and ACC events from Oct 2012 onwards.

Point 3: The only better thing to have followed those 2 Afridi Sixes - your article. Amazingly well written.

I am an Indian citizen, a Sri Lanka Cricket fan and a world cricket admirer.

Thanks.

Posted by   on (March 4, 2014, 5:15 GMT)

the classic article, as superb as Afridi's innings .... especially that sweep

Posted by   on (March 4, 2014, 5:15 GMT)

Bravo Osman,a flawless and poetic article about our great hero who has fucked indians and made us proud.............virat kohli and team indian now going to defeat by bd also

Posted by VerbosityAbridged on (March 4, 2014, 4:48 GMT)

I love the passion Pakistani's & Indians bring to cricket. Love reading the Cricinfo comments.

Posted by   on (March 4, 2014, 4:44 GMT)

oh look... another article about how unpredictable Pakistan are and how this one player who just won the match for them with a once in a lifetime performance so perfectly represents their spirit... yawn

Posted by Waqs77 on (March 4, 2014, 4:43 GMT)

No doubt he is a hero, critics will continue but he will continue as well. Come on critics, he made us win T20 world cup in 2009 single handedly through his "batting" where he alone scored half centuries in semi and final and got man of the matches in both the games. Can you give any other name who done that?? If someone who gives you victory in world cup is not hero then whom you should call a hero???

Posted by   on (March 4, 2014, 4:42 GMT)

Afrid Is Legend & Real Hero of our Beloved Country :):):)

Posted by Afifai on (March 4, 2014, 4:27 GMT)

Hi Osman, I have always loved your comments, and they way you write...it is cool indeed :). I liked your definition of a Hero and that is what we need, however, I am disappointed that you consider Tendulkar a hero?????? You have more experience and knowledge but if you look at his stats, you would understand what I mean.

Anyhow, I am not huge fan of Afridi as well but he could destroy any opponent on his day, that is what I know.

Keep writing :) one of your million fans, Ijaz

Posted by   on (March 4, 2014, 3:18 GMT)

This could have been the beginning of the end of his career if the boundaries were only a few yards wider

Posted by Auditor2012 on (March 4, 2014, 2:57 GMT)

No single player can win every match for his country all the timeS but there are hardly few cricketers who have done that for few times and Afridi have done this more then few times. People can keep on ignoring Afridi's brilliance when it come to winning thematch because of course no one player can do it always, but he have done it several times. Afridi is an automatic number 1 choice for ODI and T20 format's captaincy. With all the favoritism in PCB towards Misbah and Hafeez it won't happen soon but if Pakistan's team have to win 2015 world cup, only one captain can do that with his fighting spirit, AFRIDI. With all the politics in PCB who knows if that will happen or not, they will make him capatin of ODI and T20 team or not, they can again continue to favor Misbah and Hafeez as captain but one thing they can't denies or change, AFRIDI is a match winner, Misbah and Hafeez are NOT.

Posted by Asifmir on (March 4, 2014, 2:42 GMT)

Good article, I would take the hero issue a step further, there are 11 players in a team, each one is capable of being a hero. They must realize that out of a population of millions they are privileged to be playing for a nation. Would it not be something if each of them thinks that this is going to be my day to step up and be that hero. Yes one can only dream, they can become a guiding light to a nation that is constantly facing bad news day in and day out.

Posted by   on (March 3, 2014, 22:43 GMT)

Guys, Afridi has done it enough times! Do you forget his fastest century vs SL on 37 balls? His second fastest hundred in Kanpur of 45 vs India? The whole World Cup T20 in 2009? In Mohali vs India? Vs India in 2005 Banglore Test when he score a fast 50 in second innings to make time for Pakistan? And I can go on for several other incidents. Yes he is not predictable like Sachin, but then who other mortal is like Sachin then? Recognize his flawed genius, he is one of a kind and the likes of him may not be around for a long while!

Posted by   on (March 3, 2014, 21:26 GMT)

Wow!!! Excellently written!!!

Posted by   on (March 3, 2014, 21:22 GMT)

Afridi reminds me of Balki Bartokomous from famous TV series 'Perfect Strangers'. His cousin Larry (a new yorker) always used to make decisions by rules, reasons, logic and goes by the book and most often fails. His cousin Balki (a villager) always do what he believes and only listen to his heart and do only what he likes and most often succeeds. Afridi is no different than cousin Balki.

Posted by   on (March 3, 2014, 21:16 GMT)

The best piece ever I have read on Cricinfo. Osman you rock! Cheers

Posted by hoodbu on (March 3, 2014, 20:55 GMT)

Nice to see Osman on Cricinfo again. For those of you who don't know, he used to be the Pakistan editor at Cricinfo. Great writing.

Posted by TapeBall on (March 3, 2014, 20:47 GMT)

All fairness to say the least he is something that made all Pakistani together at least for few hours. He is the rationale populace go to stadium. Is he the reason I watch cricket? Do I like him? No. but he is the solely reason I see smile on the faces of people and I would love to see that every day of my life.

Posted by gaindballa on (March 3, 2014, 20:18 GMT)

Usman! Comments in the first paragraph are "pakistani sort of arguments". We don't care much about statistics unless they confirm what we already believe. Statistics about hafeez taking 2 wickets and scoring more than 30 runs have to be seen in context of what everyone else playing the game does but that does not take anyhting away from their value. I wonder how likely is it that the opposition scores 368 and hafeez goes for 78. Not very likely. It is very likely however that we will keep playing poeple who average in 20's and 30's and will keep calling them batsmen. That means that we are not very likely to have a consistent batting line. We have a 99% chance of ignoring these numbers and keep playing batsmen with low averages hoping against all the evidence that said batsmen will come good. Now thats a pakistani sort of thing to do.

Posted by bouncer709 on (March 3, 2014, 20:17 GMT)

@zarasochozarasamjho: guys like you r fool or just jealous, tell me in Pakistan history any other bowler who have win matches for Pakistan with his batting? or tell me in Pakistan history a batsmen who ever won any match for Pakistan with his bowling? .....tell me any other batsmen who often come to crease and always need 8+ runs per over? in match against Srilanka Afridi got out but Misbah was still there... what he did then? ... .. i agree with Osman I loved the sweep shot played by Afridi to fast bowler.. that was clean, a genius shot, when Kohli was trying to stop boundary on off he hit on the leg side, when kohli was thinking to block striagt, Afridi hit it behind the stump, in last over Kohli was thinking of midwckt, And Afridi sent it over extra cover, and when no hope left for Kohli, then Afridi spotted his favourit Area on the last ball .

Posted by immi2711 on (March 3, 2014, 20:13 GMT)

like venkatesh018 said...Afridi has now the license to be the cause of every Pakistan cricket failure, yet people will not blame him.

BUT, this does not take anything away from the game, and how it was won. I did not see Miandad 6, but I saw this game...and I can only imagine the Pak fans in Pakistan and in the ground, what their heart must be going through, I am surprised there was no heart attack reported.

All of this because, we were playing India. As much as I would like to see these 2 play every year, I am so glad, that we dont play every year, because it is and event of heavenly proportions. India can be part of BIG 3, and play all they want against any other team...but they know that all the money they want is in this match. BCCI/India can deny all they like, all the money in the world is when these 2 play...This is one event that brings the country to stand still, close shops, stop work, traffic halts...everything. Regardles of who wins, it is that kind of event.

Posted by Stieprox on (March 3, 2014, 20:01 GMT)

K methilesh i appreciate your comments. very nice article.Boom Boom was amazing and unbelievable.

Posted by known_stranger on (March 3, 2014, 19:35 GMT)

Afridi stolen the show, performances from others were not highlighted. i will give equal marks to bowlers who restricted India on a low score.

Posted by kashi_22 on (March 3, 2014, 19:15 GMT)

very good analysis, in pak noboby wants to b inzi, miandad or yousuf bt everybdy wants to b like afridi...in coming years there will b death of test cricket in pakistan..

Posted by   on (March 3, 2014, 18:54 GMT)

What makes Shahid Afridi so popular? Is it just his mapcap batting style and numerous slam-bang batting records to his name that make him a crowd favourite?

Posted by fair_paly_1 on (March 3, 2014, 18:44 GMT)

k.mithilesh

Wonderful sentiments! You should write often. Cricket needs fans like you.

Posted by zarasochozarasamjho on (March 3, 2014, 18:43 GMT)

Afridi has never been my hero. He would have been if he was played - always - as a bowling all-rounder. Coming in to bat at number 6 or lower, any runs he scored could be treated as a bonus. He is essentially a bowler, and a very good one at limited-overs cricket.

True, he has won many a game (limited-overs only) for Pakistan, with ball and bat. BUT he has been the reason for a huge number of Pakistani losses, due to his batting. He fails on average say 6 times before he comes good.

Look at the blunders he made even in this match, which he turned around in a mere 2 balls, with last wicket standing, and 3 wickets gone in the previous 5 balls: 1. He crossed over with the result that he was off-strike to face the final over.This not only reduced the batting potential for Pakistan but also added the disadvantage of Ajmal who cannot bat and duly got out 1st ball. 2. Needing 3 off 3, Afridi went for a very risky 6, when he should have gone for attempted 4's but more likely to get 2 twos.

Posted by Fozfer on (March 3, 2014, 18:15 GMT)

you nailed it in the last paragraph!!! Superb article, love it!!!

Posted by voyager on (March 3, 2014, 17:55 GMT)

"DON'T TRY THIS AT HOME" ..... Should be the label on Afridi's batting heroics.

Posted by pipsonian on (March 3, 2014, 17:44 GMT)

He is such a reflection of the nation that is Pakistan. Unpredictable yet fearless and careless to some extent but enjoying life even in the worse of times. Lets not forget our Bangladeshi brothers who were present in abundant support at the shere bangla. The borders might have been drawn but the love is there and once a brother is always a brother that is what the "nation of musalman" is all about.

Posted by venkatesh018 on (March 3, 2014, 17:42 GMT)

A truly feet-firmly-in-the-ground article from one of the saner voices in Pakistan cricket journalism. Afridi will most probably be an utter flop in Pakistani colors for the next 75 matches and nobody will care in Pakistan. This clearly freakish innings from Boom Boom will last until he retires.

Posted by wapuser on (March 3, 2014, 17:39 GMT)

U can't know what he is going to do. Even he can't himself. With ball he is consistent to say the least but with bat he is the damn inconsistent on all counts. That doesn't count as herioc at all. But the last innings of his will be etched in the memory halls of hearts of all fans for eternity. He has scripted yet another legend for himself. I can proudly say... I watched those Two Sixes.. I was there!!!(watching live on TV)

Posted by   on (March 3, 2014, 17:10 GMT)

yes this is what his character is he can steal the win from opposition and i cant see any match winner in pakistan. imagine if pakistan would have lost this match in the last over Hafeez would be the one criticized and now he is man of the match.. see the difference

Posted by   on (March 3, 2014, 16:28 GMT)

briliant piece on afridi's unimaginable yet immecable show...

Posted by Adnan-Ahmed on (March 3, 2014, 16:19 GMT)

Yes he was a hero yesterday...and also during the T20 World Cup Pakistan won. But we cannot overlook the fact that he has severely wasted his potential with the bat...the guy has even admitted, in one way or the other, that his strength is not batting, almost as if he doesn't want to improve.

I'm sorry, but to be considered great, you have to give it your all for the country every time...not once in a blue moon, which is what a good Afridi innings comes around at. He will always be considered a hero, but to me...he doesn't come close to the likes of Miandad and Imran Khan because of his attitude.

Posted by Arslan_Javed on (March 3, 2014, 16:02 GMT)

We Love him for everything he has done good for Pak cricket still we hate him not for his under performances rather for our extra ordinary imagination and believe that he can do any impossible thing in cricket. in the process we just forget that he is a mere human being. Slaam you Lala for giving so many smiles to this nation. May you live long.

Posted by AndyZaltzmannsHair on (March 3, 2014, 16:01 GMT)

# Where have all the good men gone And where are all the gods? Where's the street-wise Hercules To fight the rising odds? Isn't there a white knight upon a fiery steed? Late at night I toss and I turn and I dream of what I need

I need a hero I'm holding out for a hero 'til the end of the night He's gotta be strong And he's gotta be fast And he's gotta be fresh from the fight We need Afridi We're holding out for Afridi 'til the morning light He's gotta be sure And it's gotta be soon And he's gotta be larger than life #

Posted by AndyZaltzmannsHair on (March 3, 2014, 15:46 GMT)

"**** your statistics and laws of physics" - Afridi.

Posted by   on (March 3, 2014, 15:41 GMT)

Afridi is unique there never will be like him again in cricket. When he will be long gone from cricket his name will be written along with greats like Viv Richards, Gary Sobers, Sunil Gavasker and Imran Khan as one of the great cricketer of modern era cricket. He deserves a high place in the history of cricket. Although he has a lot of critics in Pakistan but he is a national hero without a doubt who has achieved countless victories for Pakistan for so many years that he truly deserves respect. And may he deliver one more great victory in the upcoming 2015 WC.

Posted by   on (March 3, 2014, 15:30 GMT)

Absolutely well described about his masterclass and to give something to our nation to cheer about. He is fearless cricketer no matter what he always try to deliver his best.

Posted by Zeshan547 on (March 3, 2014, 15:17 GMT)

He is not great player atleast according to stats lovers, but he is mercurial, it's not all about what happened or what will happen with Afridi it's all about what can happen. And when it actually happens you just don't believe how it happened. No other player in the world has such aura and unique feelings in hearts of his fans. Doesn't matter how much you hate him but whenever he comes to bat or bowl deep down in your heart you always anticipate something really special which only he can do. And yesterday was one of those Afridi moments.

Posted by   on (March 3, 2014, 15:00 GMT)

This article describes perfectly what the Pakistani nation felt when Afridi took guard in the last over. I'm still reeling from the fear that was instilled by the last over. Shahid Afridi along with Imran Khan are legends who will never be forgotten by the people of Pakistan. No matter how many heroes come and go.

Posted by   on (March 3, 2014, 14:51 GMT)

What Afridi has done is still unbelievable for me. I can only say that Afridi is too dangerous a player for both the teams (one he is playing for and the other which is on the opposite side)

Posted by sAm2sAm on (March 3, 2014, 14:44 GMT)

One word for Afridi: Fearless Two for the article: Absolutely Awesome.

Posted by   on (March 3, 2014, 14:36 GMT)

It's sad how people criticize someone who comes 7-8 down and wins the game against impossible odds....and has the capability to abandon fear and take the other team apart, and yet ignore all other specialist batsmen who fail to deliver time and again....He is a hero for some.....Cynics always demand constant proofs of perofmanaces of him to make him a hero..... But history chose him to be the hero that no one will finally dispute him for....

Posted by   on (March 3, 2014, 14:27 GMT)

I think that cricket had never seen such a brave man.

Posted by Morfi on (March 3, 2014, 14:05 GMT)

Thanks Osman, this is perhaps the most brilliant piece that could be written about yesterday's game and Afridi's heroics at the end. It regenerates the emotions that were being felt by Pakistani fans at the time. The fact that it came down to Afridi had to do with a couple of his own follies and lot of other batting failures at the top - The game should have ended with a Pak win by 5 wickets in the 45th over - but boy, did he finish it - they say seeing is believing but you saw it, we all saw it.... and yet....!

Posted by khanofcricket on (March 3, 2014, 14:04 GMT)

Excellent Writing. You absolutely touched upon the three things that I felt during the match and hardly anyone was talking about it 1) The stats were so silly that these were on the verge of superstition (like nelsons, etc). One has to account for all the circumstances of the match and not just what happened in the past. 2) I could not believe my eyes when Afridi crossed over on the last ball of the penultimate over when Talha got out - it didn't even count as a run as Talha got out and yet Afridi crossed over. I thought the match was done there but it was just Afridi's day. 3)I reviewed again and again to appreciate how Afridi swept the medium pacer from outside off - that was truly an outstanding and brave shot. But calling Afridi brave will be a huge understatement.

Posted by k.mithilesh on (March 3, 2014, 13:55 GMT)

Speechless Osman..bless you for the prose..as flamboyant as Afridi but with an elegance which he is capable of but does not care to cultivate..just one thing about Heroes though..Afridi is a hero to us in India as well...us who are not enamored with the certainty of a Tendulkar success which is not unlike the certainty of going to work everyday to earn a living...us who agonize over the placidity and banality of public opinions...us who want to shake everything up from root above..us who want to rebel...Afridi is one of our mascots...

Posted by   on (March 3, 2014, 13:38 GMT)

Well said Osman - I saw it and I still dont believe it. Only a crazy, fearless and determined pathan could win that game. You could see it in his eyes when he came out bat! I saw the highlights again and again and again and again and still cant get enough of it! love him or hate him this enigmatic crazy pathan is a legend!

Posted by   on (March 3, 2014, 13:34 GMT)

Osman's writing captures the make believe magic that Afridi ploys into reality ever so excitingly.

Posted by   on (March 3, 2014, 13:34 GMT)

OK compare Sharjah with Mirpur, Tauseef single with Junaid single, Miandad six with Afridi six. However also compare the Indian fan lady at Sharjah with Indian fan boy at Mirpur. lol

Posted by   on (March 3, 2014, 13:32 GMT)

Afridi is boom boom. He is not match winner. He is a man who puts fear in opponents head and bring happiness to whole nation.

Thanks Lala.

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Osman SamiuddinClose
Osman Samiuddin Osman spent the first half of his life pretending he discovered reverse swing with a tennis ball half-covered with electrical tape. The second half of his life was spent trying, and failing, to find spiritual fulfillment in the world of Pakistani advertising and marketing. The third half of his life will be devoted to convincing people that he did discover reverse swing. And occasionally writing about cricket. And learning mathematics.

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