Sahibzada Mohammad Shahid Khan Afridi – biography

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Sahibzada Mohammad Shahid Khan Afridi – biography

Post by Admin on Mon Jun 07, 2010 9:27 pm

In cricket, Shahid Afridi is the maddest of mad maxes. A flamboyant allrounder introduced to international cricket as a 16-year-old legspinner, he surprised everyone but himself by pinch-hitting the fastest one-day hundred in his maiden innings. Afridi is a compulsive shot-maker and although until 2004 it was too often his undoing, causing him to float in and out of the team, a combination of maturity on and off the field and a sympathetic coach in Bob Woolmer, saw Afridi blossom into one of modern-day cricket’s most dangerous players and a vital cog in Pakistan’s revival in 2005. A string of incisive contributions from June 2004 culminated in a violent century against India in Kanpur in April 2005; remarkably it was the joint second fastest ODI century in terms of balls faced. A few weeks before, by smashing the joint second fastest Test half-century at Bangalore and taking crucial last day wickets, Afridi had helped Pakistan memorably level the Test series.

So his year continued; a Test century against the West Indies and contributions against England at the end of the year. He went berserk against India on the flattest of pitches with two centuries, including a Test best 156 in January 2006. An Afridi virtuoso is laced with fearless lofted drives and short-arm jabs over midwicket. He is at his best when forcing straight and at his weakest pushing at the ball just outside off. The biggest improvement has been in Afridi’s legspin; previously underrated, they are now integral in the ODI side and curiously effective at key moments in Tests. When the conditions are with him, he gets turn as well as some lazy drift, but his box of tricks is the key, boasting a vicious faster ball and a conventional off-spinner as well. His allround skills are completed by agile fielding and among the strongest arms in the game; he also possesses the firmest handshake in international cricket. Again he shocked everyone but himself when, after finally becoming a fixture in the Pakistan side, and a thrillingly bombastic one at that, he announced a temporary ‘retirement’ from Test cricket, citing an increasingly heavy playing schedule. To less surprise, he retracted his retirement two weeks later. Since then he has drifted out of the Test side and his place in the ODI side was in flux for a while, until the Twenty20 format gave him a new lease of life. He was player of the tournament in the inaugural 2007 World Twenty20 but it was in the second edition, two years later, that he lit up the world as he had once done in 1996. His legspin was a threat throughout, but two remarkably cool, composed (but still brisk) fifties in the semi-final and final led Pakistan to a famous and much-needed world title. Never has Afridi’s own fluctuations so mirrored Pakistan’s, but by tournament’s end, he had ensured that no matter how he might have frittered his early career, his contribution to Pakistan cricket would now never be forgotten. And it was done in a style that no one will match.

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