Friday, November 9, 2007

Shahid Afridi - Pakistan's MVP!

This post is coming straight from the heart and is for all those who continue to criticize Shahid Afridi and his place in the Pakistan team. I call myself the most vocal supporter of Afridi, as many of you will realise after reading this, and through this blog I intend to change the minds of many who believe Afridi should not be in the team. (Are u reading Imran?)

Before I go on to discuss his recent form, I want to rewind to 1996; the year Afridi made his debut. A number of players got injured as soon as Pakistan landed in Kenya for a 4 nation tournament also involving South Africa and Sri Lanka; one of the injured players was Mushtaq Ahmed. Looking for a spinner to replace Mushy, the PCB (or was it BCCP then?) summoned for Shahid Afridi, a young and upcoming leg spinner, who was playing for Pakistan U-19 on their tour to the West Indies.

The point I want to make here is that Afridi was a leg spinner playing for Pakistan U-19, was called to play for Pakistan to replace a leg spinner, and made his debut against Kenya as a leg spinner. Please note the keyword here - 'Leg Spinner'.

Moving on in the history lesson. In one of the practice sessions after Afridi's debut match, Saeed Anwar noticed him batting in the nets and smashing the bowlers to all parts of the ground. THAT net session changed Afridi's life forever. Saeed Anwar, captaining Pakistan in place of the injured Wasim Akram, decided to use Afridi up the order in their next match against Sri Lanka, and in his 1st innings in an ODI, Afridi smashed the fastest century ever in ODIs.

What that innings did was that it made the team management use Afridi as an opener or #3 in every match, forgetting that he was essentially a leg spinner who used to bat lower down the order; as low as #9 for the u-19 team. That also led the fans to believe that Afridi could hit every ball for 6. The world forgot that Afridi was a bowler who could bat a bit - a combination of high and wrong expectations from the PCB, the team, and the spectators is what has resulted in people questioning Afridi today.

Everyone needs to understand that Afridi is primarily a bowler who can bat a bit. His position in the batting order is not in the top 3, but lower down. His role as a batsman requires him to score a quick 30 to 40 runs, not a 100. And the way he plays, he is bound to fail at times, thus people should not be gunning for his neck at those times. As for his primarily role as a bowler - he has done brilliantly well in that for anyone to point any fingers at him. Moreover, he is the best fielder in the Pakistan team.

I will sign off with a few statistics to further establish the fact that Afridi is Pakistan's Most Valuable Player (MVP).
  1. This year Afridi has played 13 ODIs in which he has scored 346 runs at an average of 34.60 with 2 fifties and has taken 19 wickets at an average of 25.21. How can anyone doubt his place in the XI?

  2. His string of scores this year is 17, 77*, 8, 16, 73*, 1, 47, 6, 32, 0, 9, 31, 29*. This to me seems very consistent enough. Whats wrong with his recent performance?

  3. Pakistan have won 141 of the 246 ODIs that Afridi has played in. That is a 57.3% success rate. What is more glaring though is that Pakistan have won the 4 times that Afridi has scored a century and 21 out of the 28 times that he has scored a 50. I think that his ratio of 50+ and 100+ scores in wins to overall is one of the best in the world, if not THE best.

I hope this settles some concerns. Afridi is leading our poll on 'who sould be Pakistan's VC' with 63% of the votes, so it shows that he has a lot of supporters. For the rest of you, I hope this has given you the background you needed to understand why Pakistan needs Afridi and why he is Pakistans MVP.

Make your pitch on this post...

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11 Pitched:

  1. Ottayan said...


    This is something peculiar to the sub-continent.

    One failure, that too in a crunch game will have everyone baying for the players blood.

    Afridi and I think Misbah suffer the same fate.

  2. Tayyab said...

    Afridi should be captain !!!

    He is a spinner not a batsman.. if he bats its bonus.. he is by far our MVP and whoever criticises him cannot be a patriot.....

    Take him in the team as a spinner but let him loose when hes batting.. dont expect too much and u wont be disappointed

  3. zqazi said...

    I totally agree, I think a lot of people forget that Afridi is primarily a leg spinner who can bat. So I say even if he scores a 0 and has figures of 2 or 3 wickets for 40-50 runs in 10 overs he's done his job!

  4. Q said...

    Your right Ottayan, fans in the subcontinent do tend to gun for heads and necks after 1 failure, but the case of Afridi is something different. The peoples' perception regarding Afridi is wrong which has and still is resulting in wrong expectations of the man.

    As tayyab and Zqazi have pointed out, he needs to be regarded as a spinner who bats a bit. His primary job is taking wickets, which he does very well. His presence on the field also results in wickets - fielding, catching, sledging, tipping bowlers, etc.

    I would even support him to be captain of the ODI side just like Tayyab.

  5. obaid said...

    I agree, Afridi has an aggressive mindframe and he should at least be the vice captain in one days. If we see captain potential in him in that role, then he should be made the captain as well

  6. O2 said...

    I'm not too sure that i agree with Q that Afridi should be vice Captain or that he is Pakistan's MVP. Maybe he deserves to be vice captain purely on the basis of the positive energy and bristling aggression that he brings to the team but his performances suggest otherwise. I Just cannot bring myself to condone his almost pubescent approach to batting inspite of being around for 10 odd years. And this i think weighs heavily against his favour.

    Agreed he WAS brought in as a leg spinner. But we have to remember the fact that if he was still thought of as a leg spinner who could bat a bit, he would not be in the Pakistan team. There is no doubt that those who gun for his neck everytime he fails are a bunch of idiots, but at the same time Afridi does himself no favours. It is one thing playing your natural game and going for your shots and another thing to throw your wicket away doing something completely unnecessary and stupid. Take his dismissal against South Africa for instance when he was the last recognized batsman with 20 odd runs needed. Did he need to play that head-in-the-air shot at that point? No. There are countless instances of him falling in that fashion when his presence was needed. When he opens, he should blast away. But not when he comes lower down. So until Afridi can show that he can bring an iota of responsibility into his play, there will always be more people against him being VC than those lobbying for him. For he cannot sustain his place in the Pakistan team purely on his bowling. It is only the last year where he's turned in some good performances with the ball but otherwise for the other 9 odd years he has only been an interesting bowling option and nothing more. And the way the Indian batsmen are absolutely slaughtering him in the current series, i fear that his purple bowling patch may be over and he may soon regress to the medicority of the first 9 years as a bowler.

    That said, I think he took maybe his first step in the right direction with the way he took Pakistan to victory in the 2nd ODI. I have to put my hand up and admit that i was completely taken aback by the way he played, knocking the singles around before blasting a quick couple of boundaries at the end. now why didnt he do that against SA I wonder?

  7. BiLo said...

    A very assertive and informative blog there by 'Q', on the
    indispensable Afridi. I believe no one has ever doubted his ingenious
    leg-spin bowling, and he has certainly developed to prove himself as a
    genuine all-rounder for Pakistan, a fact that is very well
    acknowledged in today's cricket. He rightfully deserves his place in
    the playing XI in all the three forms of the game and at all times.
    However, (I think 'Q' might concur) 'where ever there is competition,
    there are critics as well'. Afridi's main critic has been his
    hot-blooded and impulsive natured batting approach. He has at
    countless occasions not only disappointed his supporters but in fact
    accredited his critics for TRYING to thrash the ball out to the
    boundary and losing himself to a calmer and composed bowling. He has
    also at times lost himself with not-so-convincing shots at most
    crucial times.

    Recently, he has depicted a much serene image of himself playing
    untroubled shots over and along the ground. I believe if he continues
    to absorb his agitated nature and play more matured innings, he shall
    definitely zip-up his critics.

    Lastly, I have a quote for Afridi for his critics "Even the lion has
    to defend himself against flies". BOOM BOOM AFRIDI!!!

    Member of the ACE CC

  8. Q said...

    O2 - I believe Afridi IS in the team today because the management have finally realised his potential as a leg spinner who can bat a bit lower down. Yesterday was an exception as the team sent him to open cos in his last game at that ground he scored a 100 of 45 balls - it was a mistake, he should have come down the order as always.

    Moving on. You say that hes been around for 10 years and still has a pubescent approach to batting. A certain Mr. Wasim Akram who has a test best of 267* and a few 50s in ODI cricket, couldn't control his aggressive batting, and he played for 19 years! Not that I'm comparing Wasim bhai to Afridi but just making the point that today Afridi occupies the batting position that Wasim bhai did for the best part of his career.

    If you note Afridi's career in the initial few years - he was the leading strike bowler of the u-19 team he was playing for. He was the same for Pakistan initially under Wasim Akram before the team management decided that he should be a batsman. He started concentrating more on his batting which deteriorated his bowling. Remember the 3-4 hrs that Javed Miandad as coach would spend with him in the nets? Thats what led to his downfall as a bowler and eventually as a cricketer.

    Only recently have Pakistan gained the senses to utilize him more as an attacking option. Inzi used him as a defensive option, to slow down the runs, while Malik has been using him as the striker, probably on Afridis insistence. And the result? 19 wickets in 10 matches.

    Did u note how nervous he was before walking out to play that match winning knock against India in the 2nd ODI? Thats the weight of all the expectations on him.

    Maybe asking for his elevation as vice captain is being too emotional, but the man deserves credit and the mantle of being one of Pakistan's most valuable players!

    I re-iterate my stat - Of the 32 times that Afridi has scored 50 or more, including 4 scores of more than a 100, Pakistan have won 25 times. Now i'm ready to bet on that percentage of 78% being among the best.

  9. Q said...

    Thanks for your comments Bilo..I agree with you, that critics will always remain. and Moreso of Afridi who tends to get out to only rash shots rather than good deliveries.

    Love the quote.

  10. Tayyab said...

    I think afridi shouldnt open the innings.. we need him lower down the order when the ball is old as well as with abdur razak nto there we need some fire power in the end to capitalize on pakistani speciality of making 100 runs in last ten overs

  11. Q said...

    I agree Tayyab, Afridi should come in between 5-7 depending on the match situation.

    As Younis Khan said the other day that the ideal time for Afridi to be at the crease is when he can bat only 1 way, i.e. hit out otherwise he will get confused.

    That sums up how Afridi needs to be used. He cannot be expected to grind out the singles and doubles.

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