'Shaheen Afridi is no Wasim Akram. He's nothing special': Shastri, Gavaskar tear into PAK star after India WC hammering
Shaheen's poor form in World Cup 2023 continued in Pakistan's seven-wicket thrashing by India in Ahmedabad.
Pakistan pacer Shaheen Afridi versus the Indian top order was the contest to look out for in the blockbuster World Cup 2023 game at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad and the faceoff that the hosts were warned of. With India being set a paltry target of 192 on Saturday the onus was heavily on Shaheen, who has in past, been a nightmare for the Indian top order. A tall left-arm seamer with the ability to get late movement into the right hander, Shaheen possesses the perfect ingredients to rattle Rohit Sharma, Shubman Gill and Virat Kohli, but the fast bowler's poor run of form continued as the Men in Blue raced away to an enormous seven-wicket win.
Despite the promise he packs and the threat he possesses, Shaheen hasn't clicked yet in the World Cup. In the opening two games, against Netherlands and Sri Lanka, he picked just two wickets for 103 runs. Hence, his form was a huge concern heading into the India game. He had the backing of veteran cricketers such as Shahid Afridi, who revealing having a phone call with his son-in-law about rectifying the errors. However, on the big match day, nothing worked as Rohit took Shaheen on the very first ball.
Shaheen managed to dismiss Gill in the third over, but his inswing threat was nullified by the Indian skipper who smashed a boundary and a six against him in the Powerplay, where India pummelled 79 runs with Rohit scoring nearly 60 percent of them. Speaking on air as Pakistan continued to search for a miraculous comeback in the game amid Rohit's onslaught, former India head coach Ravi Shastri tore into Shaheen and the tall discussions around the impact he makes with the new ball. Shaheen's left-arm exploits have often earned him comparisons with the legendary Wasim Akram, but Shastri wasn't having any of it. In a brutal assessment, Shastri called a spade a spade, asserting that Pakistan have to accept that Shaheen is nothing extraordinary.
"When Naseem Shah is not playing and this is the quality of spin... Shaheen Shah Afridi is no Wasim Akram. He is a good bowler with the new ball and can pick wickets, but there is nothing special about him. He is only a decent bowler. He's no big deal. You have to accept the truth," he said.
Gavaskar disappointed with Afridi for not emulating Bumrah
Join Shastri in his criticism for Shaheen was Sunil Gavaskar, who wasn't happy with the left-arm quick for not taking a leaf out of Jasprit Bumrah's dismissals in the first innings. He pointed out that the Indian star's success with slower off-cutters, which led to two crucial wickets, should have been emulated by Shaheen with the new ball.
"Rizwan is the kind of player who can take the game away from the opposition. He is a very cheeky player. He knows how to play and adjust his game according to the needs of the side. So his wicket was very crucial or else Pakistan would have ended with 250-260. So that was a huge blow. Next over Bumrah gets another wicket, with another cutter. Clearly Pakistan did not learn anything because it was only towards the end when Shaheen bowled that cutter that got Rohit out. We would have thought that they would bowl the cutter even with the new ball. It is not written anywhere that the new ball has to be bowled at a certain pace. You can change it, but nothing of those sorts was seen from the Pakistan bowlers," mentioned Gavaskar.
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