In fact, a big reason why Pakistan would regularly beat India and even challenge the mighty West Indies in the 70s and 80s was because of their battery of fast bowlers. The latest in Pakistan’s never-ending supply line is: Shaheen Shah Afridi, Naseem Shah, Harris RaufMohammad Wasim and Mohammad Hasnain.
While Shah and Rauf hold their own at the two spectrums of a T20 innings, Afridi is the man who can be the game-changer for Pakistan – as was evident during the 2021 World Cup clash against India in Dubai. In his first two overs, the left-arm pace machine dismissed Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul. He later took the wicket of Virat Kohli to finish with 3-31. His lethal play was the main reason for Pakistan’s 10-wicket victory.
A career-threatening knee injury, which saw Afridi travel to England for treatment, forced him to miss the 2022 Asia Cup. Experts believed that Afridi would come cold in the T20 World Cup. However, things seem to be falling back into place for the Pakistani champion.
In Pakistan’s first warm-up match against England, Afridi bowled just two overs without taking a wicket. In Pakistan’s second warm-up match against Afghanistan, Afridi was back to his menacing best.
With Afridi now fit and firing, will Pakistan have the edge over India? “Pakistan will have an edge because all their fast bowlers can bowl at 145 plus and that makes a difference. Shaheen, especially, is very good with yorkers. It becomes difficult for batsmen to go after bowlers who bowl at that speed can bowl,” Lalchand Rajput, who coached India to the title in the inaugural T20 World Cup in 2007, told TOI.
However, Afridi is not unplayable. After his matches against India, the youngster took just four wickets in the next five matches. He was taken to the cleaners by Australia’s Mathew Wade, who pulled off scoops and reverse scoops at his scorching pace in a brilliant come-from-behind semi-final victory for the Aussies.