22 March 2015
Misbah-ul-Haq and Shahid Afridi: ODI Icons
While Misbah is known for his steady, unflappable batting style, Afridi is the master of madcap batting, capable of destroying bowling attacks on his own
While Misbah and Afridi share talent, leadership skills and a place in Pakistan cricket history, that is where the similarities end for the pair.
There was no fairy tale ending for the pair who would have preferred to see out their fifty-over careers by lifting the World Cup in Melbourne at the end of next week, but both produced highlights in a tense knockout match.
While Misbah and Afridi share talent, leadership skills and a place in Pakistan cricket history that is where the similarities end for the pair.
Explosive, entertaining and predictably unpredictable, Afridi has been duelling exciting and frustrating Pakistan cricket fans since 1996.
The man known as ‘Boom Boom’ is the master of madcap batting, capable of destroying bowling attacks when on song.
Rarely classical in his approach, Afridi burst on to the world stage when he broke the record for fastest ODI hundred in his first one-day innings, reaching the milestone off 37 balls.
He was well ahead of his time when he produced the classic knock against Sri Lanka in 1996 and only two men have been able to better him since – AB de Villiers (31 balls) and Corey Anderson (36 balls) – both in the last 15 months.
Earlier this month Afridi became the first cricketer to take more than 350 ODI wickets and score more than 8000 runs, a milestone reached against United Arab Emirates in Napier.
He finishes with extraordinary ODI career strike rate of 117 and his 398 innings have featured six centuries, 39 fifties, and 395 wickets.
Afridi’s 27-match Test career originally ended in 2006, but – in a manner befitting Afridi - he returned from retirement for one Test only in 2010, which he captained.
His one-day career, which has spanned 398 matches, has only been exceeded in sheer number of matches by Sachin Tendulkar, Mahela Jayawardene, Sanath Jayasuriya and Kumar Sangakkara.
Afridi captained Pakistan to a semi-final appearance in 2011 World Cup, having also appeared in the 1999, 2003, 2007 and 2011 tournaments.
Twenty20 batting could have been designed with Afridi in mind and that is where the veteran while continue to focus his international attentions now.
Meanwhile, Misbah will direct his focus towards the longest form of the game for the remainder of his career.
Unlike Afridi, 40-year-old is known for his steady, unflappable temperament and this has translated perfectly into his batting.
Since taking over the captaincy in 2011, his calm approach has kept Pakistan focused while also bringing the best out of Misbah, helping him reap 5122 ODI and 3736 Test runs through an international career that began in 2001.
After a stop-start beginning to his international career, Misbah returned with a bang in 2007 on the weight of his domestic performances and truly hit his stride with a fruitful 2011, where he scored nine ODI fifties and one century and seven half-centuries in Tests.
Of his two World Cup appearances, Misbah’s best result with Pakistan was the 2011 semi-final, while he personally scored 564 runs at 51.27 in 12 innings.
He bows out of ODIs with an average of 43.40 and remarkably, without a one-day ton. The closest he came was an unbeaten 96 against West Indies in mid-2013, one of 42 half-centuries made in the 50-over game.
His top five ODI scores were all unbeaten, two of them in the 90s.
On Friday, Afridi played his final World Cup innings in typical fashion, launching a big six off Josh Hazlewood and attacking every possible delivery.
Misbah played a part in a remarkable moment of his own when the ball clipped his leg stump but did not dislodge the bails, giving him a fortunate escape.
Pakistan will feel the loss of this experienced pair, particularly given fellow veteran Younis Khan may also put away his cricket kit in the not-to-distant future, but Misbah had some advice for future players after Fridays’ match.
“It was really an honour for me to just represent my country, and I really enjoyed my cricket,” Misbah said.
“I've already given everything and especially Afridi, also. He put a lot of effort for Pakistan, and we really enjoyed that.
“We always remember that, and the message for the youngster is that if you really want to be there, to compete in the world, you have to really work hard. That's what our seniors did.
“That's what we learned from all our greats.”