Shahid Afridi is an entertaining all0rounder who exploded onto the cricketing world by hitting the fastest ODI hundred of that time (off only 37 balls) in his maiden innings. This was back in 1996, yet years after that innings, some would argue that knock, despite its brilliance, was the undoing of Shahid Afridi
Afridi has to date played over 300 ODI matches for Pakistan, scoring over 7000 runs and 300 wickets.
He has always played cricket in an aggressive manner, though some would say reckless and he has refused to curb his aggressiveness. His style of play was and continues to be criticised by many but he equally has an army of fans who adore his daring approach to the game.
He spent the majority of his career as an opener for Pakistan, where he lacked consistency as good starts were thrown away. He was quite fortunate to have played as many games and was not too far from finally losing his spot in the side.
It was the late Bob Woolmer who helped him turn things around. His role in the team was changed and he became a very useful player. Woolmer utilised his hitting power by moving him down the order where he played many quickfire innings. Also, this was the time when he truly became an all-rounder as Woolmer recognised the strength of Afridi’s leg spin which was grossly underused previously. He was no longer a part-time bowler but could have made the side on the strength of his bowling alone. He was transformed from an inconsistent batsman into a fine bowling all-rounder. His fielding is also top class, he never gives up, and his agility has got him some quality catches and saved many runs for Pakistan.
This period under Woolmer was when he broke into the Test side and performed very well. He scored runs at a healthy strike rate. His bowling was handy at the Test level where he took some crucial wickets. Things turned when he announced a temporary retirement from Test cricket.
His bowling improved in leaps and bound and in recent years, he had become a leading bowler for the side. Although many felt that Afridi had played his best and last innings in 1996, he came to the party in the World Twenty20 in 2009. Two exceptionally un-Afridi like fifties in the semi final and final won Pakistan the trophy and Afridi gained legendary status as he stood mid-pitch hands outstretched like a superhero. It gave Pakistani supporters some hope that Afridi can for once become the all-rounder they all hoped he would be. His recent maturity and form had given him the honour of captaining Pakistan in T20 Internationals
With the suspension of Salman Butt for spot-fixing, he found himself in charge of the ODI team. As ODI captain he once again created a winning atmosphere in the team and along with his wicket-taking bowling, he was able to lead Pakistan quite well. While there was some uncertainty over whether he would be chosen to lead the side for the 2011 World Cup, he was eventually chosen to lead the side and emulate the other Pathan all-rounder - Imran Khan. Playing a major role with the ball, he helped Pakistan to a semi-final spot before they were beaten by eventual winners India. He finished the tournament as joint-leading wicket-taker.
Although as was his nature, controversy was to follow soon after as a spat between Afridi and the board meant that he announced a conditional retirement from the game as long as the current board was in charge.
After the resignation of Waqar Younis from the team, Shahid Afridi announced that his retirement was revoked. He would be available for selection again and was happy to play under the captaincy of Misbah-ul-Haq. Shahid Afridi performed brilliantly well in his comeback series against Sri Lanka in Dubai. In one of the matches, Shahid Afridi single handedly won Pakistan the match after scoring 75 with the bat and following by taking a five wicket haul.
Afridi took a slump in form with bat and ball during the World Twenty20 of 2012. He was unable to help his team with his magical bowling spells nor blistering stroke play that he is known for. Afridi was dropped from the ODIs for the India tour but kept his place in the T20I squad. Afridi got called back to the ODI & T20I squad for the South Africa tour but went wicketless His fans and followers declared his return when he nearly took Pakistan to an unlikely victory out of nowhere by scoring 88 on 48 balls with the help of 7 sixes. His bad bowling form in both international and domestic cricket saw him getting dropped for the Champions Trophy 2013.
He made a strong comeback against Pakistan's tour of West Indies where he scored a match-winning 76 runs and took personal best bowling figures of 7-12. In his follow up series against Zimbabwe, South Africa and Sri Lanka, Afridi showed glimpses of excellence, but as has been the case since his debut in 1996, he lacked consistency.
[Last updated: 8 January 2014]