Shahid Afridi has said that he will retire from ODIs after the 2015 World Cup. The allrounder will continue to play T20 cricket, the format in which he leads Pakistan, and wants to win the 2016 World T20 in India before quitting international cricket.
Afridi had stepped in as ODI captain in the recent series against New Zealand in the UAE in place of the injured Misbah-ul-Haq. He put in a strong all-round performance, with 205 runs at a strike-rate of 164 and eight wickets at an economy-rate of 4.03. Afridi told reporters in Karachi that he wanted to go out on a high rather than being asked to leave.
"I am the first Pakistan player to be able to announce his retirement properly," Afridi was quoted as saying by Reuters. "I always wanted to do this having seen the problems faced by other bigger players in the past. It was not an easy decision to take and I think many of my seniors also found it difficult to go out at the right time.
"I want to go out of ODIs with self-respect and with my fans wanting more from me. But no one is indispensable in cricket and I am sure sooner or later someone will take my place in ODIs as well.
"I have informed the Pakistan team management about my decision but not the cricket board as yet. Having taken a decision it is a big burden off my mind and I am confident I will be able to focus on giving my best in the World Cup."
Afridi, who will turn 35 during the World Cup, has played 389 ODIs since hitting the fastest century in his debut innings in October 1996 against Sri Lanka in Nairobi. The record stood for more than 17 years before New Zealand's Corey Anderson broke it in January this year. "I am happy about my achievements and records but the only regret I have is losing fastest ODI century record," Afridi tweeted.
He has scored 7870 ODI runs at an average of 23.49 and a strike-rate of 116.29. He has also taken 391 wickets, the sixth-most in ODIs, at 33.89 and an economy-rate of 4.62. Afridi had quit Tests in 2010 before leading Pakistan to the semi-finals of the 2011 World Cup.
Afridi's fitness has been a matter of some concern in recent times and he was among some Pakistan players fined by the PCB in September for failing to maintain the prescribed level of fitness. The PCB had attached greater importance to fitness in its new contracts and the players will be reassessed this month.
My journey has seen many ups and downs but I am feeling satisfied that I am leaving on my own terms.— Shahid Afridi (@SAfridiOfficial) December 21, 2014