There was a sudden roar which came from the crowd after a Pakistani batsman, Mohammad Hafeez, was dismissed. It didn’t fall on everyone’s ears as an oh-no cry; quite surprisingly, it felt like the crowd was happy to see the batsman walk back to the pavilion. Maybe it was because he dropped Ravindra Jadeja early in the match, maybe it was because he got captain Misbahul Haq run out, maybe it was the slow and steady 117-ball 75 that he had just scored; but most probably, it was because the majestic all-rounder, the heartthrob of Pakistani cricket fans, the man who was always feared to change the game in a matter of overs, the big-hitting, swashbuckling Shahid Afridi had just walked down the stairs.
The stage was set in Mirpur for Lala — 46 needed off 39 balls in the final of 2014 Asia Cup. If not him, no one knew who could do the unthinkable from here for Pakistan. He lost the only remaining batsman Sohaib Maqsood soon, but didn’t lose heart — Afridi, known for going big or going home, once again did what he always did. Pulled over midwicket for a six, lap-swept one over keeper’s head, swept towards square leg and when it mattered the most, with nine needed off four balls, he gave Ravi Ashwin’s spin deliveries his all. He didn’t time any of those two sixes, but as they always said, Afridi’s mishits usually do go the distance; and, on that day, they did. A bunch of Pakistani supporters were ecstatic, the world stood in awe, anyone and everyone praised Lala for his heroics, but, this wasn’t the first time and most importantly this wasn’t the end. Afridi retired on late Sunday, saying good-bye to the only format he played in — T20Is — but the show will not stop. We will see more of Lala in T20 leagues; however, as much as we despise him for his self-destruct approach or however much we love him for his belligerent performances, we’ll certainly miss watching him in All-Greens for Pakistan.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 22nd, 2017.
Like Opinion & Editorial on Facebook, follow @ETOpEd on Twitter to receive all updates on all our daily pieces.
Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.
For more information, please see our Comments FAQ