Afridi is our good luck charm!
The result of the second ODI notwithstanding, I was glad to see Afridi do well with the bat.
Shahid Khan Afridi, the captain, who went into temporary retirement sometime ago after a fallout with the board and the coach, has had an immediate impact on team performance.
In the first ODI he played after coming back, he was named Man of the Match for his brilliant bowling and in the second ODI against Sri Lanka he might have led Pakistan to victory with the bat had he not been run out. Each shot he played leaving the field were good cricketing shots suited to the limited overs game. But alas, luck didn't favour the brave in this instance. The direct hit by the Sri Lankan captain to run out Afridi all but sealed the fate of the match. This was the second time Sri Lanka took the match from a man who could have won the match single handed for Pakistan as Razzaq, was also run out.
The result of the second ODI notwithstanding, I was glad to see Afridi do well with the bat. He has been doing a great job bowling lately, including being the highest wicket taker in the World Cup. But, his stock had fallen as a batter. Last time he crossed the three figure mark was more than a year ago. He would come in, slog around and get out. But this time he looked in control and determined to play well - even though he just made 29.
Afridi’s presence on the team adds much needed aggression and also provides the cushion of an extra bowling option. Actually, he is a frontline bowler and a wicket-taker - if he bats this sensibly all the time, Pakistan could benefit greatly. But, then he would not be the mercurial, crowd pleasing cricketer he is.
Pakistan's One Day International team is as much Shahid Afridi’s as it is Misbahul Haq’s. Actually, Misbah inherited a unit that gelled well under Afridi’s leadership and fortunately for him, the team stayed together even when the captain went into retirement. Afridi's expressive and instinctive style was replaced by Haq's impassive and calm and the team continued on as if nothing had changed.
Afridi is Pakistan’s good luck charm. He led us to the semifinal of the World Cup 2011 against all odds and is still the best choice to lead Pakistan cricket in the limited overs format (both ODI and T20) as we prepare for the next World Cup given that Misbah is on the wrong side of 30.
Should Afridi be given the captaincy again is a question for another time - for now, I am just happy to see him wearing the green shirt.
A man who should have been cherished and treated as a hero was, like many others before him, was unceremoniously removed and forced into retirement by an incompetent board that was looking after the interest of Pakistan cricket. I hope the current board realizes what Afridi brings to the table and treats him well.