A man of many comebacks, Afridi played demolition man against India
Pakistanis engaged in frenzied celebrations after a thrilling Asia Cup win against arch-rivals India late on Sunday. Dashing all-rounder Shahid Afridi hit two sixes off the final over to seal a one-wicket win in Dhaka in a crucial match.Updated: Mar 03, 2014 18:01 IST
Pakistanis engaged in frenzied celebrations after a thrilling Asia Cup win against arch-rivals India late on Sunday. Dashing all-rounder Shahid Afridi hit two sixes off the final over to seal a one-wicket win in Dhaka in a crucial match.
The victory was watched by millions across the globe. The celebrations were marred by tragedy in the Pakistan's Hyderabad where a boy was killed during jubilations. Paramilitary rangers were eventually called in to disperse youngsters in parts of Karachi.
"Afridi has made us proud," said a Pakistan national Khalid Shah. "Any win over India is just like winning the World Cup, so we are out to savour this."
Millions, meanwhile, were left astounded in India with the team's loss after having come so close to winning the mactch.
Smiling ear to ear after upstaging arch-rivals India in the Asia Cup, Pakistan skipper Misbah-ul-Haq lavished praise on Afridi for his "sensible" cameo, saying that the flamboyant all-rounder single-handedly clinched a game which had gone out the team's grasp.
"I am very happy about Shahid Afridi, who has taken a lot of criticism in the last two matches. I think he showed experience and won us a game that almost went out of our control," the skipper said after the nail-biting one-wicket win.
In pursuit of 246, Pakistan were on course with Mohammad Hafeez's sparkling 75 but after the partnership was broken, they looked shaky before Afridi worked his magic in the end.
"In my opinion, this was a very important win. We were under pressure with four wickets down but Hafeez and Sohaib Maqsood put together a partnership," Misbah said.
"After that, Afridi finished the game in the way he did. We have been criticised for not being able to chase well under pressure. But today we have shown that we can do it. The confidence of the team will be boosted.
"We expect innings like that from him. Whenever he gives time in the middle and play sensibly, he can be very dangerous. He already did it quite few times, and this was one of his best innings," he added.
"I think that time the game was in our hands in the second last over but after that it was quite difficult. Still, we knew that if Afridi can get strike back we will have a chance. He played very well. The last two sixes were tremendous."
But before the match-winning sixes, Afridi seemed to have blundered by crossing over to get away from the strike when Mohammad Talha was dismissed off the last ball of the penultimate over.
With Afridi at the other end, Pakistan needed 10 runs from five balls with one wicket in hand but last man Junaid Khan did the sensible thing of taking a single to give the all-rounder the strike to finish it off.
Afridi, who scripted Pakistan's thrilling last-over win, finds it hard to stay for long knocks and says running for singles and doubles leaves him confused.
Afridi struck successive sixes in the last over to snatch a victory for Pakistan against arch-foes India on Sunday. The 34-year-old was candid enough to admit that his penchant for lavish strokes has often let the team down in crunch situations.
"I had played some stupid shots in the previous games to get out. I know that my batting is very important to my team, so I have to be consistent in my batting. It helps the team a lot. I had to play sensibly. I wanted to bring down the (target)," Afridi told 'Star Sports' after his 18-ball 34.
"If I have 15-25 overs to bat, captain tells me to play singles and doubles. I become double-minded. It is not in my nature. The lesser the overs, I feel better and play better. I play single-mindedly. That's what makes me comfortable," he said when asked about his own game.
Reflecting on his knock, Afridi said he was confident of pulling off big shots against off-spinner R Ashwin, who bowled the last over.
"I knew that I could hit his carrom ball and I had spotted it. It was pulled back slightly but I connected it really well," Afridi said.
"He had the field set on the on-side, keeping the fielders up on the off-side. I thought that if I could play through extra cover, I can find runs through that region."
Cricketing contests between Pakistan and India have been fairly rare.
Since the World Cup semi-final in 2011, they have played just six one-day internationals and three Twenty20 matches against each other.
First Published: Mar 03, 2014 16:01 IST