Shahid Afridi has been the most successful T20I bowler with 97 wickets in his basket © AFP
Shahid Afridi has been the most successful T20I bowler with 97 wickets in his basket © AFP

Right after Pakistan were eliminated from the ICC World T20 2016, there were talks about their star all rounder Shahid Afridi to call it a day from international cricket. He enjoyed a decent run in the tournament and looked as if he had much of cricket left in him. He recently hung up his boots as Pakistan’s T20I captain but wished to contribute as a player. Suraj Choudhari sheds light on Afridi’s importance in the team and suggests that he should come up the order while batting. ALSO READ: Azhar Ali shows support for Pakistan T20 Captain Sarfraz Ahmed

Pakistan failed to make it to the semi-finals of the recently wrapped up  T20 World Cup 2016 as they just managed a solitary win from their four matches in the entire tournament. As the leader of the side, the axe came down on him and has now been replaced by Sarfraz Ahmed as the skipper.

In the tournament, Afridi reminiscent memories of his heydays and played sensibly when he batted higher up the order. Looking at the present Pakistan T20I side, Afridi is the best all rounder they possess. He brings a lot of solidity in the line up with his knack to take on any bowling attack and efficient leg spin. ALSO READ: Pakistan’s new T20I captain Sarfraz Ahmed takes up responsibility as huge challenge

Afridi needs to bat in the top order as he famously did in the group stage clash against Bangladesh in Kolkata. He walked out to bat at four when the team was well placed at 121 for 2 inside 13 overs. Afridi scored 49 from 19 and steered his side to a dominating position, one of the highlight of this innings that he did not take any futile risk and was shrewd in his approach. He need not to bat for long, he can get the job done even if he manages to survive for 15 odd deliveries.

Afridi takes his batting more seriously when he bats in the top, he thinks more like a batsman. His approach and mindset makes massive amends when he bats at the top. While batting in the lower order he tends to bat like a perfect tail ender and often throws his wicket away. In fact, three of his five Test centuries came when he opened the batting. This is a testament to his excellence with the bat and has often tasted success at this position. Afridi doesn’t play an anchor’s role in the team, his forte is explosive hitting, he looks to attack from the outset which is what needed in T20 cricket.

On most of the occasions, Pakistan failed to get desirable starts from their top-order and probably this was one of the main reasons behind their downfall in the tournament. In fact, they have experimented with 20 different batsmen at the top. Afridi has a tendency to go over the infield and backs his ability to clear the 30 yards circle. His presence in the powerplay overs can garner some quick runs for the side and further get their team off to a flying start. Afridi in the recent times has batted when there were hardly any deliveries to play, his elevation in the batting order will provide him adequate time and room to place his innings. His game is well known and the world is aware of the damage Afridi can inflict if he survives for five overs at the crease.

To add to his good fortunes, he is also the most successful T20I bowler with 97 wickets in his basket. He has a staggering average economy of 6.61 and a decent average of 24.35. With Saeed Ajmal not being into the side, Afridi is the best tweaker they possess. He has an adequate amount of variations up in his sleeves and has been a canny customer. It’s a proven fact that an effective all rounder is like gold in this format of uncertainties. And Afridi certainly belongs to that rare breed, till the time his fitness doesn’t become a matter of concern, Afridi has much cricket to offer to Pakistan T20 cricket.

(Suraj Choudhari is a reporter with Criclife and CricketCountry. He is an avid follower of the game, and plays the sport at club level. He has a radical understanding about the subtle nuances and intricacies of cricket, and tries to express it through paper and pen)