Fast bowler Shaheen Afridi led Pakistan's domination of International Cricket Council awards on Monday, becoming the first player from the country to win the ICC Men's Cricketer of the Year award.
Along with him, Babar was named the ODI player of the year while Mohammad Rizwan bagged the T20 player of the year award for 2021.
Known for his sizzling yorkers and an ability to swing the ball, Afridi claimed 78 wickets in 36 internationals in 2021 and was at his best at the Twenty20 World Cup even though Pakistan went out in the semi-finals.
"He especially had a year to remember in Tests and T20Is, reaching his peak during the ICC Men's T20 World Cup in UAE where he impressed one and all with his sheer speed and skills," the ICC said in a statement, as it announced the 21-year-old the winner of the Sir Garfield Sobers Trophy for the ICC Player of the Year.
"Swing, seam, sheer pace and sizzling yorkers – Shaheen Shah Afridi gave an exhibition of it all in the year 2021," the ICC said.
Meanwhile, Twitter erupted in praise over Afridi's achievement, showering the young talent with compliments.
Pakistan Cricket Board Chairperson Ramiz Raja termed Afridi along with captain Babar Azam and teammate Mohammad Rizwan — all of whom bagged ICC awards — as the "incredible three".
"The world of cricket is richer and so watchable because of you. A proud moment for the fans who through you can now see a new beginning," he tweeted.
Former Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi termed the younger Afridi's win a "monumental achievement" that was "richly deserved".
And teammate Rizwan, who was also in the run for the title, dubbed Shaheen's accomplishment as a "great honour".
"Shaheen Shah Afridi, the eagle of Pakistan, may you continue to shine for Pakistan," he wrote on Twitter.
As cricketer Shadab Khan joined others in heaping praise on Afridi, he tweeted that he had already been saying that Afridi was at the top.
"I already said so that Shaheen Afridi is no.1," he said, adding: "Congratulations on winning the ICC player of the Year award. You deserve it Shaheenay. Lots of love and prayers for you and Pakistan cricket’s success."
Cricket statistician Mazher Arshad said Afridi being named the ICC Men's Cricketer of the Year was a "huge day" for Pakistan.
"He is the youngest ever to get the Sir Garfield Sobers Trophy. To put it into perspective, it was only 4 years ago when he was playing in Under-19 World Cup. What a quick rise," he said in the fast bowler's praise.
Meanwhile, cricket commentator Harsha Bhogle from across the border extolled Afridi along with Azam as "two of the brightest talents of the cricket world".
The ICC honours list is just a reflection of that. And you can't do more than Rizwan did in T20 cricket. Encouraging signs for cricket in Pakistan," he added.
Sports presenter Sawera Pasha announced Afridi's achievement on Twitter with a loud cheer.
"And the big one goes to Pakistan. Shaheen Shah Afridi becomes the youngest ever to be crowned as ICC Men's Cricketer of the year!!!" she tweeted.
For pacer Wahab Riaz, Afridi is a "super special star", having "achieved so much at a very young age".
"[The ICC] Men's Cricketer Of The Year [award] is absolutely remarkable and I'm so happy for you," he wrote on Twitter, further wishing the young pace bowler of staying fit and continuing to make the country proud.
And veteran all-rounder Mohammad Hafeez wished Afridi with a "congratulations" and expressed the hope that he would "keep inspiring generations".
With additional input from Reuters
Header image: Shaheen Afridi reacts during ICC Men's T20 World Cup semi-final between Pakistan and Australia. — Reuters/File