Cricket

Throwback: “I tricked Ashwin into bowling leg-spin”- Shahid Afridi, 2014 Asia Cup

Back in his playing days, Shahid Afridi had quite a reputation of outperforming himself against his arch-rivals India. The former Pakistan all-rounder was a marquee player of every coveted India-Pakistan clash over the past decade; owning to his hard-hitting batsmanship and his wily leg-break bowling. Case in point being, one of his most mercurial showings in the 2014 Asia Cup’s group stage face-off against India. 

Match Summary of the India Pakistan 2014 Asia Cup match

Afridi and his ‘boom-boom’ pyrotechnics, were, in fact, just an isolated amazing aspect from that particularly amazing game. The men in green sent their arch-rivals into bat, who put up a respectable 245/8 total on a sluggish Dhaka track courtesy fifties from Rohit Sharma, Ambati Rayudu and Ravindra Jadeja. Saeed Ajmal starred with figures of 10-0-40-3, while Mohammad’s Hafeez and Talha each claimed 2-scalps apiece. 

Pakistan started their counter-attack reasonably well, thanks to some brisk innings from Sharjeel Khan and Ahmed Shehzad at the top. However, India’s erstwhile ODI spin-bowling duo of Ravi Ashwin and Amit Mishra put a quick-check on the run-scoring process with some quick-wickets in the middle. Hafeez, alongside middle-order batsman Sohaib Maqsood, built a strong, innings reviving partnership; but none of them could stick around till the end; leaving skipper Shahid Afridi with the tough, finisher’s job.

With 13-overs to get off the last 2-overs, captain Virat Kohli (MS Dhoni didn’t feature in that tournament) tossed the ball to Bhuvneshwar Kumar. Thankfully, Bhuvi executed his job in the most earnest fashion, and sent 2 of Afridi’s partners back to the Pavillion. With only 2-wickets left, and 10-runs to get in the last over, Afridi had his job cut-out.

“I tricked Ashwin to bowl the last-two balls towards leg-side”- Shahid Afridi

Over on a recent interaction with Pakistani presenter Zainab Abbas, Afridi looked back at all the last-over commotion that happened that day. “Virat picked Ashwin to bowl the final over of the match. Saeed Ajmal was batting with me. I told him, just get some bat and run a single. He shouldn’t have played a sweep shot, but he ended up playing one anyway, and lost his wicket. It’s always a risk playing risky shots against Ashwin- he’s a good bowler, and he will tempt you with his bowling. Besides, he was getting help from the slow wicket. 

Anyways, Junaid Khan came in next, and I told him the same thing- just get a single. Thankfully, he did that, and I was back on strike for the last four-deliveries,” Lala recalled. 

Afridi then made an interesting revelation about his strategy. As per his words, Afridi had successfully been able to ‘trick’ Ashwin into bowling the next two-deliveries in leg-spin, which allowed him to play the kind of shots that he wanted to. 

“What I did against Ashwin was to look towards the leg side. I wanted to trick him so that he thinks that I am going to hit on the leg side. The idea behind it was to force the off-spinner not to bowl his off-spin. And Ashwin did exactly that. He bowled the leg-spin. I hit it over the extra cover region for a six. The next delivery was a difficult one, I did not get it in the middle. I was in two minds, I was thinking will it go over the ropes or not. But in the end, the ball sailed over the fielder for a six. I breathed a sigh of relief,” he concluded. 

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