Afridi: The 21-year-old whose bowling stunned all

Shaheen Afridi: The 21-year-old whose bowling stunned all

Afridi's opening onslaught was not supposed to be a suprise, especially against India's formidable batting line-up in T20s

Pakistan's Shaheen Shah Afridi delivers a ball during the ICC men’s Twenty20 World Cup cricket match between India and Pakistan at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium in Dubai. Credit: AFP Photo

Pakistan speedster Shaheen Shah Afridi dealt such a devastating blow to the Indian batters on Sunday night that they could never recover. With dizzyingly swinging deliveries the 21-year-old pacer streamrolled through India's openers KL Rahul and Rohit Sharma denting India's hopes of a big total in their ICC Men's T20 World Cup opener.

Afridi's onslaught was not supposed to be a suprise. The left-arm maverick has made headlines for his theatrics with the new ball all over the world  -- at home, in England and in UAE, the key venue for the ongoing T20 World Cup. The seamer has taken a wicket in the first over in 20 of 61 T20 innings he's played in, according to ESPN Cricinfo. Thus, Indian openers, Rahul and Rohit, were first in line of fire. For Afridi, and for Pakistan, the opening spell of three overs played out ditto the script they would have wanted. 

Also read: 'This is just the start,' says Babar as Pakistan celebrate

Particularly Rohit's wicket, a bowl so good that everybody in the already-roaring stadium went berserk - some in jubilation, some in disappointment. A curved delivery that swung in (not too much) to rap Rohit's pads. Next, Afridi doubled down with a zipper to the second opener -  the bowl ricocheted off the deck to trim the Rahul's bails. As for the privileged viewers at home, with access to slow-motion visuals, the ball left Afridi's arm, jagged inwards to Rahul and messed up the wickets. 

At the end of the powerplay, India were left in tatters. He reemerged in the end overs to trouble Virat Kohli, ending the skipper's patient innings of 57 off 49 deliveries. 

Man behind the plan

Afridi is tall and slender, has a brisk aggressive run-up and a high release point. But the magic apparently lies in his agile wrists. An almost whip-like snap of his wrists before the release of ball perhaps results in that swing. The bowler's coach from younger days Ayaz Akbar Yousafzai has talked about the flexibility of his hands, shoulders and wrists. And all that "natural" Afridi delivers is from a mechanical combination of these features. 

He once told his coach, when he must have been 14-15, that he will one day play for Pakistan national team, according to The Indian Express. “He said it matter-of-factly. Sometimes, kids say na, I want to play for Pakistan — this wasn’t like that. He wasn’t telling me his wish. He was confident,” coach Yousafzai recalled. 

If Afridi laid the foundation of Pakistan's first innings, skipper Babar Azam and Mohammed Rizwan cemented the position. Azam and Rizwan stitched together an unbeaten partnership to crush India, giving their team its first win against India in a World Cup tie. However, Afridi, the Man of the Match, is going to lead a renewed, intimidating bowling attack through the tournament. 

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