It then makes sense that despite it being many years since the batsman turned into a potent leg-spinner, the world -- such as the spectators at the R Premadasa Stadium — still remembers him for his exploits with the bat. On Monday, like ever-so-often in the past, Afridi let them down with another early attempt to boom boom.
Checking in big
This time, in the last warm-up game before the World T20, Afridi charged Ravichandran Ashwin second ball and got caught at long-off for a two-ball duck. It was a marginal improvement on his back-to-back golden duck in the last two games against the same side in T20s. In a format that was once thought to have been custom-made for him, the former Pakistani captain has been drawing permanently short.
In exactly 50 T20Is in his career, Afridi has four half centuries to his credit. Three of those arrived consecutively at the biggest stage, during the 2009 World T20 in England. Pakistan, it goes without saying, went on to win that edition quite comfortably. Afridi’s last half-century was hit during his last T20I against the Lankans, and between that and his last set of great scores three years ago, the batsman has played 25 matches — with half of them resulting in single-digit scores.
To be fair to Afridi, the man hardly considers himself an all-rounder. His wealth of experience comes in handy for Pakistan with the ball, the performance against India on Monday notwithstanding (he was hit for 41 runs in his four overs by Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli). Still, considering that Pakistan have players such as Umar Akmal, Shoaib Malik and Abdul Razzaq all vyeing for that finishing role with the bat in the side, time is fast running out for Afridi.
Leading upto this World T20, the press and media back home in Pakistan were calling for his head, and Afridi claims that he is well aware of the fact that he has hanging off a very short rope. “I am looking to regain my form. I’m aware of the expectations from me and since it’s a very important event, I will go all-out to put on a good show,” said Afridi.
Captain Mohammad Hafeez, however, played down the pressures surrounding his star player, claiming that with his experience in international cricket can pull him and Pakistan out of a crisis situation. “He is one of the most experienced players in our side. He is a match-winner for us since the past 15 years,” Hafeez said. “Afridi has ample experience to come out and perform on any day. He is in good shape and feeling confident.”
Confidence, however, can only do so much for a player. Earlier this year, Afridi was picked up by Ruhuna Royals for the inaugural edition of the Sri Lankan Premier League for a decent sum. He let them down rather badly by having a woeful season. If the runs dry up in Pakistan colours too on the same island during the upcoming World T20, then the big-hitting Afridi could go from memory to history.