Shaheen Afridi, a Pakistani seamer, stated before the match against archrivals India in T20 World Cup 2021 that his goal was to dismiss India’s top 3 batsmen. Just like his teammate Mohammad Amir did few years ago. Afridi’s blazing speed caused the Indian batting order to collapse, fulfilling his aim and evoking memories of Amir’s 2016 Asia Cup heroics. In 61 T20 games Shaheen Afridi has played since making his debut in February 2018. This marked the 21st time he had taken a wicket in the opening over.
Shaheen Afridi placed India on the rear foot in a stunning opening spell, establishing him as the pacer to watch out for such events.
Shaheen Afridi vs Rohit Sharma
Afridi stormed in during the 4th ball of India’s innings during the Super 12 clash versus India as Rohit Sharma was getting ready to face. Sharma is taken off guard by an inswinging yorker, which strikes his back leg directly in front of the middle stump. Because it was so plumb, commentator Nasser Hussain called it out before the umpire. Sharma’s previously too had troubles facing a left arm pacer early in his innings, hence this was advertised as a contest to watch. However, the show only lasted a single ball, thanks to the piercing yorker.
Equally good against left and right hand batters
Although many right-handers find left-armers difficult, however Afridi is equally lethal against southpaws. Eight of the 21 batters he has dismissed in the first over were lefties. In one out of every three T20 games he plays, he effectively gets the first wicket in the opening over. Just after the game, Kohli stated, “He instantly put batters under stress with the new ball, he is brimming with energy and constantly puts the ball in the right spot, so as a batsman you are compelled to be a bit tentative.”
Shaheen has turned first over into an event of his own, all six deliveries of his first over are hugely anticipated by the crowd and he seldom disappoints his fans. He also has 20 first over scalps in PSL, which is a clear manifestation of his immense ability, raw talent combined with an urge to be the best in the business.
Shaheen’s impact in home series against Australia
Shaheen did not play in the opening match of the recently concluded historic ODI series versus Australia at home.
Nevertheless, he made a strong first impact after dismissing Aaron Finch in his first over of the second game and Travis Head in the third and decisive ODI off the first ball of his opening over.
As per statistics, Shaheen Afridi has grabbed a wicket in the first over of a T20 inning, 20 times over the span of just 60 games, totalling 21 first-over wickets internationally.