Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Maverick Afridi Can Be a Big Shot as He Bids to Light Up Pakistan's Summer

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Maverick Afridi Can Be a Big Shot as He Bids to Light Up Pakistan's Summer

Article excerpt

Byline: WAYNE VEYSEY

IF POP group Gnarls Barkley were cricket fans they might have had Shahid Afridi in mind when they sampled the lyrics for their seminal dance anthem 'Crazy'.

The words, 'I think you're crazy' is what must go through the heads of cricket purists when they watch the pyrotechnic Pakistan all-rounder construct an innings.

Afridi is a one-off, a compulsive shot-maker who out-hits even the other sluggers of the modern game such as Adam Gilchrist, Andrew Flintoff, Kevin Pietersen and Virender Sehwag.

His Test match strike-rate of 85.95 runs per 100 balls (Flintoff 's, by comparison, is 64.80) is astonishing for a top-order batsman, although he has his once underrated leg spin to fall back on if the scorebook is logging too many low figures.

Afridi's bombastic approach has made him a folk hero to Pakistan fans since he arrived on the international scene as a 16-year-old spin bowler and pinch-hit the fastest one-day international hundred in his maiden innings.

Last winter, when Pakistan initiated England's post-Ashes recession, thousands of Afridi worshippers who stampeded into the stadiums at Multan and Faisalabad specifically to watch him bat funnelled out immediately as soon as he was out.

But the block bash (or, sometimes, bash bash) modus operandi that the public so adores has often proved his undoing, causing him to float in and out of the team, and it has only been in the last 18 months that he has become a fixture in the side and finally worked out how to thrive in the unforgiving arena of Test cricket.

Since his recall to the Test squad in January last year, in 10 Tests he has enjoyed a sustained purple patch, averaging 47.44 with four hundreds and three fifties, some of which have altered the course of the game, and claimed 23 wickets.

Yet controversy is never too far away from this most captivating of cricketers. …

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