Big hitting Afridi should be in the Pakistan Test team
If there is one cricketer who gives Pakistan a whiff of a win, it is Boom-boom Six-o-Maniac, Shahid Afridi. In the first ODI against Australia in Brisbane last Friday, he made a difference in the Pakistan attitude by smacking 48 runs off 26 deliveries, belting 5 fours and 3 sixes, with a strike-rate (SR) of 184.61.
On Sunday in Sydney, he made only 9, but it included a six.
This Tuesday in Adelaide, he hit 40 runs off 29 balls (SR 137.93) with 4 fours and a six. As long as he was batting, Pakistan had a chance to win and keep the series alive at 2-1.
When Afridi bats, can sixes be far behind?
He is among two cricketers to have hit more than 200 sixes in ODIs.
Sri Lanka’s Sanath Jayasuriya tops with 270 in 432 innings at 0.62 sixes per innings (6/i). Afridi has skied 258 sixes in 273 innings at a much superior 6/i rate of 0.94.
That is almost a 6 every ODI innings!
A flamboyant and inconsistent all-rounder, Afridi has an amazing SR of 111.38 in ODIs, which is scoring more than a run off every ball he faced in 291 matches over fourteen years.
This is the highest SR among those who have played more than 30 ODIs.
He has scored the fastest century in ODIs. His hundred against Sri Lanka at Nairobi on 4 October 1996 came off 37 balls and included 11 sixes and 6 fours.
Remarkably, he was only 16 then.
In 291 ODIs, he has scored 5927 runs at 23.24 with four centuries (highest score 109), enriched with 258 sixes and taken 272 wickets at 34.71 (best 6-38 vs. Australia at Dubai last April) and 98 catches.
Jayasuriya is the only other player to achieve the 5000 runs and 250 wickets double (13428 runs and 322 wickets), but he has played 153 more ODIs than Afridi.
Afridi’s best ODI was against England in Lahore on 27 October 2000 when he followed his 5-40 (his skidding quicker deliveries causing havoc) with a match-winning 61 off 69 balls as swarms of flies, attracted by the humidity and floodlights, descended on the ground.
Handsome Afridi’s inconsistency kept him in and out of Test arena, but he remains one of the most spectacular players. He went berserk against India and hit his Test best of 156 (with 6 sixes) off only 128 balls at Faisalabad in January 2006.
In 26 Tests, he has hammered 50 sixes, an astounding rate of 1.92 sixes per Test. Even Adam Gilchrist could not match his six per Test rate – 100 sixes in 96 Tests at 1.04.
Afridi averages 37.40 with the bat (five centuries, highest score 156, and eight 50s) and 34.89 with the ball (best 5-52). His versatile spin bowling has improved in recent years and on occasions he gets drift as well as turn, and – when least expected – he delivers a vicious faster ball.
Pakistan should use him regularly in Test matches as an all-rounder because he can neutralize their negativity with a towering six here and a fastish flipper there. After all, his batting average in Test cricket (37.40) is superior to his batting average in ODIs (23.24).
Expect the unexpected when Shahid Afridi takes on Australia in Perth tomorrow.
Kersi is an author of 13 cricket books including The Waugh Twins, Cricket's Great All-rounders,Six Appeal and Nervous Nineties. He writes regularly for Inside Cricket and other publications. He has recently finished his new book on Cricket's Conflicts and Controversies, with a foreword by Greg Chappell.
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