T20 World Cup 2021: Pakistan can summon 'spirit of 2009' to recapture title, says Shahid Afridi

Published October 14, 2021
In this file photo Shahid Afridi celebrates in his signature style after smashing a winning shot in the World T20 final against Sri Lanka on June 21, 2009. — AFP/File
In this file photo Shahid Afridi celebrates in his signature style after smashing a winning shot in the World T20 final against Sri Lanka on June 21, 2009. — AFP/File

Shahid Afridi, the box office trailblazer of white-ball cricket, believes that “unpredictable” Pakistan can summon the spirit of 2009 and win a second T20 World Cup.

Afridi was man of the match in a nail-biting seven-run semi-final win over South Africa in the tournament 12 years ago where he made 51.

He then starred again in the eight-wicket rout of Sri Lanka in the final at Lord's where he smashed an undefeated 54.

Pakistan's victory came just three months after the terror attack on the Sri Lanka team in Lahore, an incident that sparked a shutdown of international cricket in the country.

“We had that issue of the Sri Lanka attacks on our minds,” Afridi told AFP.

“The whole nation was disappointed and frustrated so that win was very much needed.

“The win gave the whole nation happiness and some unforgettable moments.” Afridi famously stormed onto the scene in 1996 when he broke the record for the fastest century in ODI cricket, reaching his hundred from 37 balls.

It was a record that stood until 2014.

Afridi, who played 99 T20 Internationals for Pakistan, thinks recent setbacks can again inspire Babar Azam's team in the 2021 T20 showpiece.

A month before the mega-event, head coach Misbah-ul-Haq and bowling coach Waqar Younis resigned, apparently believing new board chairman Ramiz Raja would sack them anyway.

Then New Zealand abandoned their tour of the country just minutes before the first ODI in Rawalpindi.

Three days later, England also withdrew its men's and women's teams from visiting Pakistan.

“This is Pakistan cricket for you, never ever a dull day,” added Afridi ruefully.

“Pakistan can surprise any team in the world. Rule them out at your peril.” In his 22-year international career, Afridi was at the heart of Pakistan's “topsy-turvy” ride in limited-overs cricket.

Heartbreak and drama

Afridi anchored Pakistan's run to the final in the inaugural Twenty20 World Cup in South Africa in 2007, taking 12 wickets which earned him the player of the tournament award.

Pakistan, however, lost twice against arch-rivals India — including the final.

“Pakistan gave the best entertainment in the first T20 World Cup,” insists Afridi.

“We lost to India in the group match after a bowl-out, which was something very new for us.”

Pakistan then lost the final with Misbah-ul-Haq falling to an injudicious shot off the third ball of the final over, with just six needed for a win.

“Misbah brought Pakistan into the game but then we lost by the barest of margins,” said Afridi.

Under Afridi, defending champions Pakistan then lost in the semi-final of the 2010 edition in the Caribbean when Michael Hussey clobbered 39 runs in the last two overs to give Australia an unlikely win.

“T20 suits our character,” added Afridi. “We have the talent, approach and aggression required for this rapid format.

“It is a format which is loved throughout Pakistan. We won against every team and then every team adopted that style.

“Bowling is now full of variety and new batting techniques have developed.” Afridi insists Pakistan can once again spring a few surprises in the UAE.

“The current Pakistan team is very talented although they lack experienced players. But, as we all know, never underestimate a Pakistan team! “

Opinion

Civil liberties
23 Oct 2021

Civil liberties

The late I.A. Rehman is esteemed on both sides of the border.
The Hamza factor
Updated 23 Oct 2021

The Hamza factor

A new story is quietly unfolding inside the PML-N and there may yet be a surprise twist.
What should Imran Khan do?
Updated 23 Oct 2021

What should Imran Khan do?

Making a mishmash of religion and politics won’t turn Pakistan into a welfare state. Here’s what can.
Afghan health crises
Updated 22 Oct 2021

Afghan health crises

The condition and prospects of Afghanistan’s health sector are complex and grave.

Editorial

A final push
Updated 23 Oct 2021

A final push

PAKISTAN’S hopes of exiting the so-called FATF grey list have been shattered once again. The global money...
23 Oct 2021

Kabul visit

FOREIGN MINISTER Shah Mahmood Qureshi’s flying visit to Kabul on Thursday is the first official high-level...
23 Oct 2021

Baqir’s blooper

THE remarks made by State Bank governor Reza Baqir at a London press conference have hit a raw nerve in Pakistan. In...
Spate of attacks
Updated 22 Oct 2021

Spate of attacks

Following a near-constant decline since 2016, the year 2021 has witnessed a precipitous rise in violence-related fatalities in KP.
22 Oct 2021

Libel suits

THE outcome of two libel cases recently decided by courts in England should be edifying for the government — if it...
22 Oct 2021

Education losses

A NEW report on the education losses suffered by Pakistani children due to pandemic-induced school closures sheds...