Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Shahid Afridi still deserves to be in the team

No one divides emotions among Pakistanis the way Shahid Afridi does. There are fans who still believe that he is the only match winner the team has, and then there are critics who believe he is well past his sell by date and should have hung up his boots some time ago.

I am not sure why our fans go into a hyper frenzy mode before every world event. Our lead up to the ICC World Cup 2015 revolved around wanting Misbah to leave ODIs and let Afridi captain. Our lead up to the ICC World T20 2016 is about removing Afridi as captain and replacing him with God knows who!


Since the World Cup 2015, Pakistan's record in ODIs and T20s has been as follows:

vs Bangladesh: LOST ODIs 3-0; LOST T20s 1-0
vs Zimbabwe: WON ODIs 2-0; WON T20s 2-0
vs Sri Lanka: WON ODIs 3-2; WON T20s 2-0
vs Zimbabwe: WON ODIs 2-1; WON T20s 2-0
vs England: LOST ODIs 3-1; LOST T20s 2-0
vs New Zealand: LOST ODIs 2-0; LOST T20s 2-1

T20s: WON 7 LOST 5 TIED 1

Our ODI team and T20 team have mirrored each other in the series that Pakistan has played since the World Cup 2015. Both teams have been under performing. However, our T20 team has won more than it has lost and it has done relatively better than the ODI team.

But somehow, all that seems to be Afridi's fault.


So why hasn't the ODI team improved after the departure of Misbah and Afridi? Weren't they the biggest problem the team had?

Logic is always thrown out the window the moment Pakistan cricket fans try to become analysts.

Now let us turn our focus to Afridi's performance as a player. A number of critics believe that his current form is not good enough for him to be in the team.

Really? I wonder where these critics are when Afridi is winning games for Pakistan.

Here's a look at the 13 T20 matches Pakistan has played since the World Cup 2015, barring the ongoing Asia Cup.

Pakistan vs Bangladesh

Only T20: Scored only 12 and conceded 0-25 in 3 overs. Pakistan lost.

Pakistan vs Zimbabwe

1st T20: Scored 4* of the only ball he faced and conceded 0-28 in 3 overs. Pakistan won.

2nd T20: 7(3) and 1-36 in 4 overs. Pakistan won.

Pakistan vs Sri Lanka

1st T20: Came to bat in the last over and scored 8(4); and 0-31 in 4 overs. Pakistan won.

2nd T20: Came to bat with Pakistan 40-5 in 7.2 overs while chasing 173. Scored 45(22) and set up the chase for Anwar Ali and Imad Wasim to finish it off. 1-30 with the ball. Pakistan won.

Pakistan vs Zimbabwe

1st T20: Came to bat in the last over and scored 2(3). 0-23 with the ball as Pakistan defended 136.

2nd T20: Came to bat in 17th over and scored 2(2). 0-26 with the ball as Pakistan defended 136.

Pakistan vs England

1st T20: 0 and 0-33. Pakistan lost.

2nd T20: Came to bat at 120-6 in the 17th over while Pakistan were chasing 173. Scored 24 off 8. Pakistan lost by 3 runs. Pick of the bowlers with 3-15.

3rd T20: Came to bat at 65-5 in the 12th over while Pakistan were chasing 155. Scored 29 off 20 as Pakistan tied the game. Pick of the bowers again with 2-19.

Pakistan vs New Zealand

1st T20: 23(8); 2-26; 4 catches; 2 run outs; Pakistan won; man of the match.

2nd T20: 7(3) and 0-38. Pakistan lost.

3rd T20: 8(8) and 1-27. Came to bat at 55-5 as Pakistan collapsed to 101 all out.

So then in 13 T20s in the past year, Afridi has given a good (PASS) performance in 6 matches; he has given a fair (NEUTRAL) performance in 2 matches; and he has failed (FAIL) in 5 matches.

Based on this performance will you kick him out of the team?

No seriously tell me, does this mean his place in the team is not justified?

Even if you consider those 2 neutral performances as a fail, it means he did well in 6 matches and failed in 7 matches.

Is that not good enough for you?

For the past week, since an interview was published where Shahid Afridi was quoted as saying that there was a lot of pressure on him from friends and family to continue playing T20 cricket for Pakistan even after the World T20, every single facebook group, whatsapp group, and social media platform has been abuzz with the Afridi debate.

I am tired of arguing and I hope to God that this can at least show the haters / critics that no Afridi is not past his sell by date. nor is he a liability on the team. He has performed over the past year and deserves his spot in the XI on current form.

And that interview was just an honest statement from a man who doesn't mince any words. Surely there are many people out there who don't want Afridi to retire. They want to see him play forever. That's all he said. He never said he is not going to retire.

Our fans have a knack of dramatizing everything. Emotional qaum hai, kya karein.

Afridi will retire at the end of the World T20. Till then he is our T20 captain.

Till then it will be great if we can remember him fondly and remember what he has done for Pakistan, rather than talk about what he hasn't.

Make your pitch on this post...

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2 Pitched:

  1. Shoaib Khan said...

    nice work, collecting all those stats!

  2. Isra Tanweer said...

    I think it is very important that people read this and realize how crucial it is to bid farewell to an absolute legend with the kind of respect that he deserves. Not just this statement, the biryani statement was also turned into a huge mess and it just seems that regardless of the situation, the nation prefers to blame HIM because he's been playing since a while.
    We have never been great at respectfully departing players, Imran Nazir and Abdul Razzaq to name just two, but Shahid Afridi has given us so much in 20 years.
    It's high time we give something back.

    A Pakistani who just wants Pakistan to go easy on someone who has represented Pakistan for 20 years.

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