Sunday, January 24, 2010

Shahid Afridi's Role in the Pakistani side?

Well if the ongoing one day series between Australia and Pakistan is considered, one name that is found to strike everyone's lips is that of Shahid Afridi's. One, for his hard hitting capabilities which has seen him emerge as the batsman who has scored two fastest hundreds in one day cricket, at positions number 1 and 2. Afridi scored the world's first two fastest hundred in terms of the number of balls faced against Sri Lanka when he scored 102 off 37 balls and against India when he scored the same runs in 45 deliveries. However, if his batting capabilities are of that importance, why is he made to take the crease at position 6 in the first one dayer against Australia?

Another interesting feat about Shahid Afridi's career is that his strike rate in one day internationals is 111.24, which I heard is the highest by any Pakistani batsmen. And moreover, Afridi also is the only player in the Pakistani side to have played 200+ one day matches and maintained a strike of above 100. However, if the videos of his batting are watched, all that would be evident is that Afridi blindly waves his bat in the air. And if the bat makes contact with the ball, the ball either clears the ropes or if the batsman is unlucky lands in the fielder's hands.

I remember the ICC Champions Trophy match between India and Pakistan, where India were bundled for a moderate target of 200. And Pakistani innings also didn't start the way it was supposed to, with Pakistan losing wickets at regular intervals.The Pakistani scoreboard read 152/6 from 40.2 overs when Afridi entered the crease. All he did was to smash the ball haywire that saw him end up scoring 25 runs from 12 balls. His effort neither could pull Pakistan from the pressure nor could he notch up a decent score. Finally, Pakistan reached the target just 2 balls prior to completion of the innings. A little bit of planned innings from Afridi could have seen Pakistan in a better position.

Though most of them rate him as one of the most threatening batsman in world cricket, his batting average in ODI is 23.17 and has scored less than 6000 runs in international cricket from 290 games. Someone like Yuvraj Singh has scored above 7000 runs from just 250 games at an average of 37.09. However, if Afridi's bowling is given a closer look at, he has so far taken 272 wickets at an average of 34.51 that includes 3 five wicket hauls and a best bowling performance of 6/38. Except Sanath Jayasuriya, I can hardly see any batsman to have captured 6 wickets or more in ODIs in the last decade. Only 3 bowlers from India have been able to take 6 wickets in an innings of an ODI.

Added to that is the variety with which Afridi bowls. The bowling variety of Afridi is far better than someone like Anil Kumble. But, Afridi is hardly considered as a bowler by anyone though he is found bowling 10 overs frequently. His bowling is compared with someone like a part time bowler may be Yuvraj, Sachin, Sehwag etc. But, Afridi can be considered a better bowler than the ones mentioned. Finally, one has to decide whether Afridi is a batsman or a bowler or an all rounder or a pinch hitter?

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