‘Baba Boom Boom Out’ — this is what unorthodox Pakistan all-rounder Shahid Afridi’s daughter once called him for his reckless style of batting. Ever since he hit a 37-ball hundred in only his second one-day international, Afridi has been a cult figure.
On Sunday, Zimbabwe’s Sean Williams got a quicker left-arm ball to straighten and bowl out birthday man Afridi on a duck, breaking the hearts of millions of fans already disconsolate after their team lost to India in their first World Cup game. West Indies later condemned a hapless Pakistan to a 150-run rout in their second game.
While age is fast catching up and his form is sliding now, Afridi’s batting style has always been under the scanner. He has a batting average of 23.52 runs, the lowest for any player with more than 5,000 runs in the ODI format. The statistic records the average number of runs a batsman scores per innings.
Afridi’s buccaneering style of trying to smash every other ball out of the park has often infuriated cricket fans and his teammates. Afridi’s former captain Wasim Akram is known to have repeatedly told him not to throw his wicket away, but that did not change the 35-year-old’s ways.
Afridi’s reckless streak caused several fans to go into a meltdown mode on Twitter on Sunday.
“Very rude of Afridi to not even stay till Zimbabwe players can finish singing 'Happy birthday to you...',” posted a Twitter handle by the name ‘Fake IPL Player’
“Afridi's birthday party menu: Duck à l'orange. Duck breast. Long roast duckling. Peking Duck. Pressed Duck. Zhangcha duck #PakvsZim,” posted another user.
"Afridi getting out on a score by which he becomes older every year. #Respect #PakvsZim," one of the tweets said.
"The biography of Shahid Afridi will be called Duck Tales," posted another Twitterati.
"Post-retirement plan sorted. Open a duck farm." was another Twitter user's take on Afridi's duck.
But Afridi’s latest innings against Zimbabwe doesn’t tell half the story about him. If fan following was a yardstick of greatness in cricket, Afridi would be ranked Pakistan's greatest ever player.
His announcement that he is quitting the ODI format after the World Cup has left his millions of fans pondering: who to watch after him?
No cricketer in Pakistan has had the persona and the box office pull of the hyperactive, big-hitting Afridi, who filled stadiums throughout his career — and often emptied them when he was out.