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Sight Screen

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Pakistan's WMD

278 runs off 153 deliveries spanning six innings, three in India and three in the West Indies -- that's Shahid Afridi's recent record; it includes a 45-ball century against India at Kanpur that qualifies as the second fastest of all time, behind only Afridi's own earlier record.
Such sustained, match-turning big-hitting is not unique -- the likes of Jayasuriya and Klusener have had such spells in the past.
What makes Afridi's recent exploits interesting is the way it slots into the reformatting, and rejuvenation, of the Pakistan side.
Till recently, Pakistan reminded you of a pail of fireworks into which someone had carelessly dropped a match -- spectacular, but more capable of harming itself than the opposition.
That is what Woolmer has changed, or is changing. A step at a time, he is finding roles for his key players, allowing them to settle into their slots, giving them the confidence that as long as they are playing for the team cause, failures will not be held against them.
Thus, a Shoaib Akthar is in the doghouse because his relentless self-promotion and quest for the speed record is not helping the team cause; an Afridi, till recently an occasional invitee to the Pakistan one day party, is now a valued member despite aberrations such as his 24 off 21 balls in the first ODI against the Windies and his 12 off 10 in the next (the sort of innings that, had they been authored by a Sehwag, would have had the country collectively baying for his 'irresponsible' head.
Afridi, in fact, made the point himself, when in February he said he had the potential to be a Sehwag. 'The difference between us,' Afridi pointed out, 'is that he has the complete confidence and support of his coach and captain which I don’t enjoy. If I get my share of support from the dressing room, I will certainly be an improved player.'
He's got that support now -- and the results are showing. (Another example, incidentally, of the value of a quality coach -- the selfsame Afridi was a now-in, now-gone member of the squad when it was coached by Javed Miandad).
A vote on the most improved player of recent times would have the tempestuous Pathan taking high honors -- and here, Kamran Abbasi celebrates Afridi's growing maturity.

1 Comments:

  • Afridi is the most versatile member of Pak ODI team now, Be his batting or Bowling..he steals the show...
    he has improved drastically..

    By Anonymous Abhay, at 04:26  

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