Thursday, April 18, 2013

Shahid Afridi to Play till 2015 World Cup

While Afridi was at his peak bowling form during 2010 and 2011, I thought this was inevitable. I was sure that he would be playing till the 2015 World Cup.

Officially he would be only 35 by the time the next World Cup is played in Australia and New Zealand, the venue where Pakistan won their only World Cup title in 1992.

But in reality, Afridi will be close to 40 in 2015.

Can he last till then?

I am willing to bet that he will. Bet on the Kentucky Derby, bet on the IPL, bet on Afridi playing the 2015 World Cup and I am sure that neither your horses, nor your IPL superstars, nor Afridi will disappoint you!

A few days ago was the first time that Afridi publicly stated that he has the 2015 World Cup in mind. It is still 2 years away and it will take a big turn in fortunes for Afridi to remain in Pakistan's ODI team given his recent performances.

Between 2007 and 2011, Afridi was the best ODI bowler in the world. But 2012 was a bad year for him, which saw him get dropped from the team for the first time since making his debut in 1996.

He has always been an unreliable batsman and though he seems to have revived some of his old six hitting form, it is his primary role in the team, which is a worry.

Afridi went wicket-less in the 5 ODIs against South Africa.

He has been wicket-less in his past 6 ODIs, in which he has bowled a total of 47 overs! 282 deliveries!

If you go back to the last time he picked an ODI wicket, it was off the final delivery of his first over in the 1st ODI against Australia in Sharjah in August last year.

Since then, he has bowled 56 overs, i.e. 336 deliveries in ODIs, without picking up a wicket.

He has also been expensive giving away 307 runs in those overs without picking up a wicket.

In 20 ODIs since the start of 2012, Afridi has picked up only 15 wickets, 5 of which came in 1 match against Afghanistan.

That is a serious problem for a man who wants to play for Pakistan till the next World Cup.

It saddens me no end to see Pakistan's greatest spinner so woefully out of form. It will sadden me even more if he continues playing without picking up wickets the way he used to.

An in form Afridi is an asset no doubt, and the kind of damage he can do with the ball, and even the bat, no one can.

If only he can find that magic back, Pakistan will gladly keep him in the team till 2015. But I seriously feel its a tough ask.

I would really like to see Afridi play for Pakistan. I would love to see him tear apart batting line ups with his fast leggies. I would love to see him tear apart bowling attacks with his hard hitting. I would love to see him stand with his arms in the air celebrating a wicket.

I would love to see him stand with his arms in the air celebrating a World Cup win for Pakistan.

But before all that, I would simply love to see Afridi take wickets again.

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