Shahid Afridi

Shahid Khan Afridi called in as a last minute replacement leg spinner for the One Day Tournament in Kenya in 1996, amazed everyone by smashing a century off 37 balls. The 21-year-old from Karachi loves to meet the challenges of life without wasting too much time. Often his hasty approach earns him the flak and people tend to write him off. This is one of the factors that inspite of being an amazing hitter of the ball he has gradually worn off due to poor self-control and perhaps team management. He has not been called upon to play regular first class cricket to improve his batting skills, instead has been made a regular pinch hitter who after a few defensive strokes begins lashing out regardless of line and length. His performance in One-day internationals played during 2000 does not present a healthy picture. In 27 matches, he has managed to score 604 runs at an average of 24.16, which contains three fifties. However, the picture is a bit encouraging as far as the longer version of the game is concerned. Taking part in five Test matches for Pakistan during last year, he has scored 240 runs at an average of 30.00. He has also added nine wickets to his credit during the same period.

  • When and how did you started playing the game (i.e. Cricket)?

    I started playing from the age of 11-12. My brother who started playing after watching Imran Khan influenced me. I loved the game immediately but started playing the game seriously only in 1993-94. I played domestic cricket from Karachi Cricket Club. I started playing cricket for Pakistan in 1996.

 
  • You had a great start to your career, one which every cricketer dreams of. What happened over the years?

    I donít think so. I just think that luck is not favouring me. Itís not that I donít work hard, I do but itís just not happening. I guess itís only a phase and I will get over with it very soon. I guess itís only a matter of time even Sachin has had no performance phase, some of the other players too have failed to live up to their expectations.

  • Donít you think you are a very impulsive batsman? Probably that is one of the reasons for your inconsistent performance?

     
    I donít think there is any problem like that. Itís just that I want to hit every ball out of the ground. I can't help it but at the same time I also want to stay at the wicket. I think the longer I stay at the wicket the better it is for me.

 

  • Why are you still unable to find a regular place in the Test side?

    Only after 55-60 one-day internationals did I get my first Test game. If you look at my Test record you will see that my best figures have been in Test matches; of the 7-8 that I have played so far. Every time I have got a chance I have proved myself, both with the bat as well as with the ball.

 

  • What goes through your mind when you are batting out there in the middle?

    I simply try to play my natural game. I like hitting as much as spending quality time at the wicket.

 

  • What is it like playing against India? Why are all Pakistanis so aggressive on the field?

    Itís not against India alone. It could be any team. I donít see if itís the Indians or South Africans, I just enjoy my cricket. Yes, there is a desire to defeat India. And itís not like we havenít defeated India enough. I think weíve beaten them on a couple of occasions; on a lot of occasions, in fact. If they play well then they will win and vice versa.

 

  • You seem to share a special relationship with Javed Miandad. Can you throw some light on your and Mr. Miandadís relationship?

    He really makes me work very hard and is lucky for me. He is equal to everyone. He works on every playerís fitness but then its upto the players to listen to him and follow what he tells them.

  • And what has Wasim Akramís influence been on you?

    I think he is a perfect Captain. The job of a captain is to see to it that he makes a player and he does exactly the same. The number of chances that he has given me, or helped me get, is very encouraging.  Itís great fun to play under Wasim Akram. He gets the best out of you.

 

  • Can you take us through that blistering 100 you knocked off in just 37 balls against the Lankans to score a world record?

    I had not thought about any world record when I went in to bat, but all I had in mind was that if we scored 360-plus we would make it to the final of the tournament. My captain instructed me to go out there and get going. So I decided that I would go out and bat in my normal style. I didnít even know in the middle of the innings that I was on my way to setting a world record. It was all by the grace of Allah!

  • You have a very notorious reputation in the way you lead your life off the field. How true are these allegations?

    Firstly let me tell you that our side is a very disciplined one and we never let our personal lives affect the teamís performance. But then every individual has his own life and his own style of living it. Everyone has different styles. Now, I donít know if the media has created this impression about us or we have done it ourselves. What I donít get is how should it matter to anyone. As long as we donít let it affect our game, I donít think anyone should complain.

  • Do you like opening the innings or batting lower down the order?

    Any number will do for me. My thinking is that once the captain sends you at a particular number then your job is to perform and get runs at that number. Nothing else should matter.

  • Who is the toughest bowler you have faced till now?

    I donít think any bowler can trouble me much. But Srinath and McGrath are pretty difficult to get away. The main thing about them is their line and length. You cannot disturb them easily. I just play them on merit and then take chances at the other end. If they are bowling really well then you have to respect them and look at the bowler at the other end.

  • And which bowler do you enjoy batting against most?

    Shane Warne. The world thinks that he is a great bowler and very difficult to play, but I thoroughly enjoy playing him. I think he is damn easy to play.

 

  • Do you have to say something on your bowling? Australians have been picking your action on and off?

    See I care little for what the Aussies say. They bring up these issues every time they cannot play a certain bowler.

 

  • What is your ambition in life?

    I donít ever think too much. Just want to play cricket; enjoy it, and earn respect. I do set myself certain targets at the start of the series. I look at my performance after every tour and set new targets for the next series.

 

  • How does Pakistan produce such young players, who perform at the highest level?

    The school level in Pakistan is very good. By the time the boys get to the under-14 and under-15 level, they become very good cricketers. There is talent in Pakistan.

 

  • You were linked to some Indian actress when you were in India. Were those reports true?

    No they were absolutely wrong. I used to get calls from some girl called Sonali. She used to tell me that she was from the Hindi film industry. I have absolutely no clue who she was and I never met her.