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ESPNcricinfo Awards 2021 T20I bowling winner: Shaheen Afridi knocks India flat

The Pakistan fast bowler earned his side their first win over their neighbours in World Cups

Deivarayan Muthu
10-Feb-2022
In 2019, when Pakistan ran into India in the 50-over World Cup, Afridi wasn't in the XI. Two years later, in Dubai, he came to the fore, setting up Pakistan's first World Cup victory over India with a new-ball spell for the ages.
Osman Samiuddin told you it was coming. Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul knew it was coming. India's top two batters in white-ball cricket still couldn't do much about it, as Afridi provided a throwback to Mohammad Amir's terrific takedown of India's top order in the Champions Trophy final at The Oval in 2017.
Afridi first let rip an inswinging yorker fourth ball that left Rohit overbalanced as it torpedoed into his back pad. In his next over he burst through Rahul's defences with another inswinger that also seamed and skidded after hitting the pitch.
Virat Kohli worked his way past the early strikes, making a 45-ball half-century. Then Afridi struck again, with a slower bouncer, leaving India 133 for 6 and the Pakistan fans dancing in Dubai.

Key moment

The perfect opening sequence to Rohit and Rahul. Afridi had everything going for him: swing, seam, pace, direction and support from the crowd. Sure, Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan put on an unbroken 152-run stand in the chase, but Afridi had already sealed India's fate with his three key wickets.

The numbers

1 This was Pakistan's first win in a men's World Cup game - ODI or T20I - against India, across 13 outings.
21 Wickets taken by Afridi in the first overs of T20s, across 61 matches.

What they said

"Same celebration, same side, new result. Well done my boys."
- Shahid Afridi on Twitter
"They were the best two balls that I've seen in five weeks. A fast in-swinging yorker and the courage that it takes to bowl that delivery against Rohit Sharma with the new ball is admirable"
- Pakistan batting consultant Matthew Hayden on Afridi's choice of deliveries in the first over of the match

The closest contenders

Ashton Agar
6 for 30 vs New Zealand, third T20I, Wellington

Agar became the first Australian to take a six-for in T20Is; only eight other bowlers, from all teams, have achieved the feat so far in the format. Devon Conway hit him for three fours in his first over but Agar returned to the attack and removed Conway, Glenn Phillips and Jimmy Neesham in one over, and later added three more to his tally, helping secure a 64-run win.
Haris Rauf
4 for 22 vs New Zealand, T20 World Cup, Sharjah

After Afridi bagged the bowling honours in Pakistan's game against India, it was Rauf's turn in their second, against New Zealand. He set to work with a 149kph yorker, which Martin Guptill survived, but Rauf castled him with his second ball, which was clocked at 148kph. Rauf's next three wickets, of which two came in three balls in the 18th over, were all off slower variations. His four-for limited New Zealand to 134 for 8, which Pakistan chased comfortably.

Deivarayan Muthu is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo