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Posts Tagged ‘shahid afridi’

I’m not sure Tillakaratne Dilshan has fully grasped the concept of what an opening Test batsmen is supposed to do. Filling the role for the first time in the First Test against New Zealand, he ‘steadied the ship’ after Sri Lanka had lost two early wickets by hitting 92 from 72 balls, including the fastest ever Test fifty by a Sri Lankan.

It’s difficult to imagine many other Test openers reacting with in quite such an aggressive approach (certainly not any of England or New Zealand’s openers). Whilst it could be argued that Dilshan was playing high-risk cricket to a degree which is often unsuitable for the longer format, his positivity certainly turned the match in his side’s favour (from 16/2 to 134/3).

Who knows? Test Cricket may just need more crazy openers – what price Afridi to open for Pakistan?

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The ECB have announced that Pakistan will play two Tests and two Twenty20 matches (no ODIs, interestingly) against Australia in England (and possibly Wales – the venues are yet to be confirmed) next July.

Previously, hosting matches in England had been considered too expensive for the PCB, but that obstacle seems to have been overcome. English fans (as well as UK-based Aussies or Pakistan fans) can now look forward to Afridi vs Johnson and Gul vs Ponting at a ground near them.

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After all that Pakistani cricket fans have been through recently, there is no set of supporters that deserves something to celebrate as much as they do. With that in mind, congratulations to the side which has just won the World Twenty20 finalShahid Afridi shone again with the bat after Abdul Razzaq had taken 3-20 (continuing the strong impact that he’s had since returning from the ICL) as Sri Lanka fought their way back from 70-6 to set Pakistan 139 to win.

Uncharacteristically, the eventual victors didn’t even put their fans through any last-minute anguish with a collapse, or stumble across the line. At times, there was even a worrying outbreak of sensible batting from Afridi, but luckily he shook that off with a couple of massive sixes to get the party started.

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When Twenty20 cricket was first gaining its popularity, people said things like ‘oh, that sounds like the sort of thing Shahid Afridi would like – he scores runs at a ridiculous rate whilst holding defensive shots in the contempt they deserve‘ (as it was put in the Guardian, he “bats with the foolhardy panache of all three musketeers rolled into one“). When the first IPL auction came around, the Deccan Chargers agreed, shelling out $675,000 for his services.

His first season in the IPL wasn’t that impressive, though, and at the time he made more headlines with his complaints about the cheerleaders being “distracting” than with his cricket.

South Africa have felt the full force of Afridi’s aggression, however, in the World Twenty20 semi-final. As well as blasting 51 from 34 balls, he took an impressive 2 for 16 from 4 overs with the ball to help his side qualify for Sunday’s final.

Whatever happens on Sunday, Afridi has confirmed what we already knew – after all these years, he’s still full of surprises.

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In honour of Umar Gul’s remarkable 5-6 yesterday (youtube here), here are four more of the best-ever T20I bowling performances:

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A number of sides have left it until the last minute to announce their squads for the upcoming World Twenty20 (the final deadline is May 5), but Pakistan’s has grabbed a couple of headlines for the inclusion of relative unknowns Shahzaib Hasan (scorer of 607 runs in ten matches for Karachi in the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy) and Mohammad Aamer (who has taken 56 first-class wickets in ten matches for Rawalpindi this season).

The rest of the 15 is as follows: Younis Khan (the captain), Salman Butt, Ahmed Shehzad, Shoaib Malik, Misbah-ul-Haq, Shahid Afridi, Kamran Akmal, Fawad Alam, Shoaib Akhtar (who may be lucky to be included given continuing doubts over his fitness), Sohail Tanvir, Umar Gul, Yasir Arafat and Saeed Ajmal.

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Australia’s poor one-day form continued as they lost to Pakistan by 4 wickets with a whopping 35 balls remaining. Chief amongst their tormentors was Shahid Afridi, who took 6-38 from his ten overs, his best ever bowling performance in an ODI.

In fact, eight of Australia’s wickets fell to spinners as they crumbled to 168 all out. James Hopes made 48, but ran out of partners and ended as the lone player not to be dismissed (and as the only player other than the top 3 to make it into double figures).

The sides play again on Friday, when Pakistan will be hoping to continue their good form and Australia will be hoping to arrest their seeming decline. The likes of Andrew Symonds, playing in this tournament in the hope of gaining an Ashes place, will nio doubt be desperate to get back out onto the field.

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