Just how do you stop Shahid Afridi? South Africa certainly couldn’t find an answer to that question in Nottingham on Thursday, and one suspects, it will be on the top of Kumar Sangakkara’s mind come Sunday.
Before Afridi decided to launch against the Proteas, smashing them all over Trent Bridge en route to his career best score of 51, his best effort in this format was a mere 39 – against Bangladesh in the last World T20.
Since then, he has been woeful with the bat and hardly looked like the eventual match-winner he proved in the semifinal. But then, this is how Afridi has always played his cricket. Spin has played a big role in stifling batsmen, and that will be a factor Sangakkara will hope Muttiah Muralitharan and Ajantha Mendis can exploit against Afridi.
Afridi will look for the big shots irrespective of the bowler confronting him, something that could play into the hands of Mendis and Murali. It is not only with the bat that Afridi poses a threat. He has got many a big name with his fast, full leg-spinners.
Stopping an on-song Afridi is often improbable, if not impossible.
There is one man who, however, seems to do it quite often – Afridi himself. The Lankans would be dearly hoping for that to happen at Lord’s.