ICC WT20: Lord's Match-Winner Vital For Pakistan
By Aaron Kumar
A fantastic bowling display from Shahid Afridi kept Pakistan in the 2009 ICC World Twenty20 tournament as they beat the Netherlands by 82 runs on Tuesday (9th June).
Afridi is one of the most feared hitters in international cricket; the right-handed batsman took the world by storm when he smashed 100 from just 37 balls on ODI debut against Sri Lanka, and this is still the fastest ever ODI century.
Afridi has been held back so often in his career, mainly due to having such an explosive personality to match his brutal hitting. For example in 2005 when England toured Pakistan, there was a scare when a gas cylinder exploded during a Test match. It was feared to be a bomb and the players left the field, however as they made there way back out Afridi thought no one was looking and he danced on the wicket trying to scuff up the wicket. Afridi was, however, caught on camera and subsequently banned for the following Test and the first two ODIs against England.
Seeing the thousands of Pakistani fans arrive at Lord's, it was clear for all to see that expectations were high and after the disappointing performance against England on Sunday, a cricket-loving nation expected much. As the players were introduced on the big screen each player was greeted and a welcoming cheer. However as Afridi's name was announced a huge roar erupted from the Pakistani supporters across a chilly and grey Lord's ground.
Afridi hit 13 from 7 balls including a huge six over mid on, but this was not what Pakistan had been hoping for.
In the end though, the man who hails from the Afghanistan border came into his own claiming four wickets, with superb figures of four for 11 from four overs. If he struggled with the bat he looked like a world beater with the ball, beating the Dutch batsman for pace and comprehensively bowling some of their finest batsmen.
After the game Pakistan captain Younus Khan was asked if he was disappointed that Afridi is performing better with the ball than the bat - his response was that Afridi is a match-winner for Pakistan, and as long as he is performing with either bat or ball then he is satisfied.
Afridi certainly delivered with the ball at Lord's, and if the MVP from the last tournament fires with the bat to boot then a team that looked beleaguered a few days ago could be set to go one better then their runner up showing in 2007.
© Cricket World 2009