‘He’s the backbone of their striker’: Shaheen Afridi praises Virat Kohli, reflects on T20 WC’s magic spell against India, Sports News
India and Pakistan faced each other in the Men’s T20 World Cup 2021, in the United Arab Emirates. The two teams played their respective Super 12 opener on October 24 at the iconic Dubai International Cricket Stadium in Dubai.
While many expected the Indian team led by Virat Kohli to extend their unbeaten streak against the greatest rivals in World Cup history, Babar Azam’s Men in Green beat the one-time winners of ten counters. Shaheen Afridi was the star of the Pakistan team when he came back with 3 for 31. The youngster’s opening spell sent India on the back foot, reducing them to 6 for 2 with openers Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul back in the hut. While then-captain Kohli stood tall with an impressive 57, he was also fired by Shaheen in his last spell as Men in Green limited India’s famous batting formation to 151-7 . In response, Babar and Md Rizwan’s respective half-centuries propelled the side to a massive ten-wicket win.
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Recently, Shaheen thought back on the team’s atmosphere before the marquee clash, his magic spell and hailed India’s best order. In a conversation with Cricbuzz, Shaheen said, “Most of the players were playing against India in a T20 World Cup for the first time except for Hafeez bhai and Shoaib bhai. And for us it was an opportunity. The kind of cricket we were playing, we were very prepared and we had confidence in each other. The role of the captain is crucial and he was very supportive of me and the team. The dressing room environment was quite friendly.
He said: “There was a feeling that if Shaheen can’t then Hasan Ali will… and if Hasan Ali can’t then Haris Rauf will. We had to play our best cricket and make people happy at home. And it’s lucky we ended up on the right side.”
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On the famous trio – Kohli, Rohit and KL and the strategy to get the better of them
In this regard, Shaheen said, “The end I was playing from, the leg side limit was smaller, say about 60-65 yards only. If I had played straight and fast on him [Virat Kohli], he would have brushed me or pulled me for errands. So I wanted to mix things up and throw a slow bouncer at him to make it hard for him to go to the leg side.”
“Fortunately for me, the ball grabbed and it went out. I admire Virat Kohli a lot, he is one of the best at the moment. Rohit, Rahul and Kohli are their mainstays and three of the best batsmen in the world. Kohli unki reedh ki haddi hai (Kohli is their spinal cord). And once you take them out, it becomes difficult for the middle order,” he added.
For the uninitiated, India and Pakistan will go head-to-head once again at this year’s Men’s T20 World Championships, which will be held in Australia. They are both in Pool 2 and will meet at the iconic Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) on October 23.