As Dhoni lifted the cup, I thought of Afridi

Published: April 3, 2011

After a strangely placid Sri Lankan fielding performance, we watch India lifting the Cricket World Cup.

Mistakes will be forgotten and achievements exaggerated until the late entry of Sreesanth is seen as a phenomenal decision. Everything is so much more legendary in retrospect.

As confusing as the sight of Munaf Patel and Sreesanth holding the World Cup may be, when Tendulkar holds it, a strong case is made for eternal justice. What a fitting destiny for a player who ruled the sport for longer than many of his fans have lived. And his team seemed to acknowledge that, with constant dedications of the win to him, and by carrying him around the park. A special hats-off to Dhoni, who played a captain’s knock at the largest platform possible, and who earned this cup through brave captaincy.

Of course, when you use the words brave and captaincy together, the image of a smiling Shahid Afridi with his arms held in the air rushes to mind. If you were watching the last Zaheer Khan over hoping that he didn’t take another wicket because that would steal the highest wicket-taker status away from Afridi, then you are a true Boom Boom fan.

And that’s the thing with Afridi isn’t it? He’s an entertainer, he’s infectious and thankfully, he’s back in public favour. His apology to the nation for losing left the girls ‘aww-ing’ and now messages of pride are going around for him.

In an act of collective amnesia, we have forgotten that this is the same Afridi who bit the cricket ball. Many fans had vowed never to watch the game again, and many critics had said that this act was just as shameful (if not more) than the match-fixers. Hopefully, the difference is now more pronounced.

Afridi took a bite out of rules, risking his own career and fees, for us, for the nation. Match-fixers take a bite out of the nation and the game for their personal gain. With Afridi, there may be a lack of finesse, etiquette and level-headedness, but there is never a lack of intent, spirit or emotion. So he may try to bowl sneakily  before the batsmen is ready, or start tying his naala (trouser string) while speaking in front of TV channels broadcasting to billions of viewers, but that’s what makes him what he is: the rock star of cricket, the ultimate entertainer.

Rock stars may engage in drugs and profanity, but they make amazing music. It’s all part and parcel of the deal and that’s how Boom Boom rolls.

People who make a case for our country to be represented as disciplined, corruption-free, professional and articulate, make a case for misrepresentation. Our campaign cannot ride on those things, our campaign rides on passion and hunger.

And what a campaign it has been!

Few would have thought reaching the semis was possible from this depleted Pakistan team. Too often during the tournament were we painfully reminded of the 18-year-old left arm prodigy we could have had sharing the new ball. What a waste of talent, what a waste of youth. Such players are not born often; let us hope the next one is wiser.

And speaking of wisdom, I have yet to meet anyone who could explain the wisdom of Misbah’s semi-final performance. From dropping Tendulkar early in his innings, to blocking deliveries and rejecting singles until Umar Akmal exploded with frustration at the other end, he really was magical. I heard the BCCI announced Rs1 crore each for members of the Indian team. It would only be polite to extend that offer to Misbah.

However, despite the eventual self-destruction in semi-finals, things seem good for now. Fans are happy and critics embarrassed. There is hope that promising youngsters like Asad and Azhar Ali will bring fresher stability to the middle order while the aggressive Ahmed Shahzad and Umar Akmal develop around them. Needless to say, the cricket fever is back.

Sachal.Afraz

Sachal Afraz

A graduate from the Lahore University of Management Sciences currently pursuing post-graduate studies at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) in Sydney, Australia.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • In love with Afridi

    Self destruct. Thats what we did.. we let that cup slip from our hands and no matter who we blame, the reality cannot be reversed.

    Well written, indeed.Recommend

  • TARIQ SALEEM KHAN

    thumbs up!!! :) i rarely find such optimism these days. gr8 work.Recommend

  • Zainab M.

    One of the better articles I’ve come across on Afridi and cricket. And yes, Aamir’s presence was sorely missed.Recommend

  • http://theautumngreen.wordpress.com/ Autumn Green
  • AB

    India deserved to win simply because their players were more mature and competitive and … and not shadowy…or scandalous..
    They played hard and achieved what every one dreamt.Recommend

  • Sana

    Splendid article…!!Recommend

  • Amer

    Misbah should get at least an achievement award from the BCCI or better yet let’s give the selectors and Ijaz Butt a medal as well. Recommend

  • BS

    Regardless, of what spin you put on it you can never justify cheating. Sadly, cricket is a dying sport and some of the poorest countries in the world play one of the most expensive games. Recommend

  • Ducky

    “Of course, when you use the words brave and captaincy together, the image of a smiling Shahid Afridi with his arms held in the air rushes to mind.”

    That made me weepy. Recommend

  • Khawer

    Seriously, you’re gonna blame Misbahs batting? The pitch had slowed down and was keeping low and he had no batsmen (at least non in form) coming after him.Recommend

  • Moazzam Salim

    Unfortunately whenever i think of Afridi an image of a captain chewing a cricket ball during an International match comes to mind…if anyone can associate bravery to that shameful episode which tarnished the Pakistan name then you have a misplaced and pretty fanciful imagination.Recommend

  • Deen Sheikh

    BOOM BOOM AFRIDI
    Inshallah One day we will break Our ‘Lose to India in a World Cup’ Taboo
    If people remember records clearly, we still have an edge over them in both ODIs and Test Matches
    and it wasn’t until the 2004 Friendship Cup, that Indian won an ODI and Test Series in Pakistan.
    It wasn’t until their 2001-2 Batting Revival with the induction of Yuvraj, Kaif and Sehwag that turned them into a batting super power, with later participants such as Gambhir, Raina, Kohli. To get a real idea of how much fighting fire power is in their batting line up, look back to the Natwest Series in 2002, Chasing 320+ to win against England at Lord’s, India were down to 120-5, with Sachin, Saurav, Laxman, Dravid already back in the pavillion, then came Yuvraj and Kaif, they made ensure Indian won. that match was the turning point of India’s fighting spirit batting Fire Power. That match can be remembered for Saurav Ganguly’s burst of emotions with his shirt waving on the Lords dressing room balcony.
    I think our bowling can be proud of what we achieved in the Semi final, we were the only team to really trouble the Indian batsmen with spin bowlers and Wahab Riaz took 5 on a Flat Track.Recommend

  • Arif

    Dhoni should be role model for all pakistani cricketers.
    He is modest and polite and free from controversy!He is a true cricket patron which afridi lala should learn !
    Afridi should stop involve himself in politics which creates divide in team!Recommend

  • Fatima

    It was beautifully written, Afridi does deserve a pat on the back.
    @Khawar… This was the same pitch Indian smashed on, and by the way, Misbah did start making runs eventually, only they were not needed at that timeRecommend

  • Sor

    Splendid article. I’m only an occasional watcher of cricket, and I only watch when my home team, India, plays. The India-Pakistan world cup semi final was the first ODI I had watched since 2003, and I have to say, Afridi truly is a star.
    As a commenter above said, it is rare to find such optimism these days. In fact, I had seen quite a few Pakistani media outlets claimed the match had been fixed, and they had launched into tirades about why India did not deserve to win either match.
    While I’ll obviously still support the Indian team, I have to appreciate the Pakistani team, which has come back strongly since the debacle of 2007.
    India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka are the powerhouses of cricket now, and I expect to see most finals taking place between them.Recommend

  • http://islamabad Maryam

    @Khawer:
    please…..misbah is the one responsible for letting the cup slip through our hands…
    he should just go n die..Recommend

  • Easy peasy

    Ball biting, trying to doctor the pitch, bowling before batsmen are ready – you need to be brave, besides being a cheat, to do all this. I agree.Recommend

  • proud pakistani

    “If you were watching the last Zaheer Khan over hoping that he didn’t take another wicket because that would steal the highest wicket-taker status away from Afridi, then you are a true Boom Boom fan”— that was me :D

    Afridi is one of the best things to happen to Pakistani cricket especially considering the debacle of the past year. He brought the team together, he instilled the “jazba” to win in the players and he is a wonderful and patient captain. A true leader. Always keep that smile on your face. You have given us a reason to be proud of the team after witnessing some turbulent and heartbreaking times last year.

    A great read!!Recommend

  • http://www.6la8.com Confused

    That’s strange. When I saw Dhoni lift the world cup, I saw Dhoni lift the world cup. Love Afridi though.Recommend

  • Ehsan

    Afridi could have been good if ..if
    he didnt chew the ball
    If he didn’t try tactics like bowling before batsman is ready etc

    to the world he actually has come across as a cheat. And when he is the captain the opposition rarely respects him and for them it has been easy.

    When a captain is not respected, the the team under him is taken for granted.

    Change the captain please…………Recommend

  • thetruth

    @Amer:
    pakistanis should take responsibility for watever they have done n stop putting it on everyone else(the world or BCCI). Winnign or Loosing is part of the game. I guess you’ll dont even have the dignity and thats y the US is bombing ur country(NW frontier) back to the stone age.Recommend

  • human

    There is a saying, you eventually get what you think is good.
    So if you think cheating is good, you will get cheaters in team. I am really not a fan of Afridi. There was some good fight putup in the world cup by pakistani team and some credit goes to him, but overall he doesn’t look like a true leader. The worst part was he didn’t include Shoib Akhtar in match against India, this was just plain politics. He should have at least said some good words about him in post match presentation but he didn’t.Recommend

  • TI

    Not sure why Pakistanis are blaming Misbah. He needed support from other end. No batsmen was willing to stay with him. According to legend Imran Khan, Fielding and poor captaincy were the root causes of Pakistan’s defeat. Recommend

  • thetruth

    For Pakistan Cricket to see its glory days once more, Imran Khan and Wasim Akram should be appointed admisnistrators at the top, Waqar Youns is at the right place as bowling coach. Let Imran Khan and Wasim Akram decide who they need to improve Pakistan Cricket (these guys are legendary and in a class of their own) or else it will be 6-0 India, next time.Recommend

  • Sachal

    To praise Afridi is not to justify cheating. He has his flaws, but credit where it is due. I have never said biting the ball or doctoring the pitch was good, or SHOULD be done, or is ideal.
    Afridi is not perfect, but we are an imperfect nation with imperfect heroes. And he IS a hero.

    @ Confused: I agree with you. I thought of Dhoni at that time too. The headline isn’t mine. Got edited, etc.

    @ The obsessive pessimists: Live a little. We all have skeletons in our closets. Just because your misdemeanors aren’t caught on camera doesn’t mean you are a more moral person.

    @Everyone else: Thank you. I’m glad you enjoyed it. Recommend

  • Zuha

    This is brilliant. Truly a master-piece. You penned down the thoughts of millions out there. I even think the name is fitting. Nobody in this world is perfect, and though Afridi may be somewhat lacking in his social graces, the spirit of patriotism his captaincy induced in the entire nation, as well as the unity, sportsmanship and exemplary devotion that Afridi and his team helped bring about in the entire nation deserves to be acknowledged, or rather, celebrated. Most importantly, Afridi and his team did what all our unbecoming politicians haven’t been able to do all these years-brought the entire nation together in ways previously never witnessed in Pakistan, and reinforced the world’s belief that the Pakistani Cricket team is a force to be reckoned with. Against all odds, his team made it to the Semis, which, in light of recent events, is a monumental achievement and a major upgrade. True, our team is flawed, but as Pakistanis who claim to be die-hard cricket fans, it is important to stick by our team in both, victory and defeat. Acclaim their attributes and if you feel the need to, then criticize their shortcomings but don’t let their flaws cloud your better judgement, and while you’re at it, love them any way.Recommend

  • Agree with the writer

    @Sachal:
    I agree with ur counter post, and i must add hear as well, that cheating or doctoring the pitch is alll wht indian media has said. No proof, there r many other things which indian HAWKEYE doctored, didnt anyones eye got the glipmse ! Recommend

  • sana

    @Ducky:
    me too…Recommend