Mumtaz: Shaheen Afridi back to his best in the semi-final
The Pakistan fast bowler took the key wickets of Finn Allen and Kane Williamson in Sydney
Shaheen Shah Afridi had a slow start to the T20 World Cup in Australia but former Pakistan Women captain Urooj Mumtaz says the fast bowler has been improving throughout and was at his best in the semi-final victory against New Zealand.
"By far, I think we probably saw him at his best," Urooj said on ESPNcricinfo's T20 Time Out show. "He has grown into his element throughout the tournament."
Afridi was returning from a serious knee injury at the start of the World Cup and picked up 2 for 24 in the semi-final in Sydney, striking in his first over by trapping New Zealand opener Finn Allen lbw.
"He again didn't get the ball to swing, but the one to Finn Allen just did enough," Urooj said. "And I think you set the tone when you pick up wickets early up front. He didn't give a lot of loose balls and it had to be within the stumps and throughout, I think the bowling attack today did that very well," she said. "Shaheen in the last two overs as well was again very good with the ball towards the end."
After taking 1-11 in his two overs in the powerplay, Afridi returned to bowl the 15th and the 17th, conceding only 13 runs and dismissing the well-set Kane Williamson for 46. Williamson was bowled moving across his stumps and looking to hit behind square on the leg side.
"It's interesting. When he [Williamson] got out, he realised that he should have gone hard at the square boundary and not gone for the one over fine leg," former Australia allrounder Tom Moody said. "And he just got outfoxed really. It was a good slower ball from Afridi to get a key wicket. Kane is a player, once he's established like that, he can find boundaries at the back end of the innings quite easily with those pickup shots."
Afridi's figures of 2 for 24 helped Pakistan restrict New Zealand to 152 for 4 and took his tally of wickets in this T20 World Cup to ten, making him Pakistan's joint-highest wicket-taker along with legspinner Shadab Khan. Nine of those wickets have come in his last three games, after Afridi went wicketless against India and Zimbabwe, and took only one wicket against the Netherlands.