Stung by unwarranted criticism, Shahid Afridi gave a fitting reply with a brilliant all-round performance guiding his team to a comprehensive 55-run win over Bangladesh in a group league encounter of the ICC World T20.
The Pakistan skipper led by example blasting 49 off only 19 balls with winners scoring a massive 201 for five after opting to bat.
Afridi then bowled his superfast leg-breaks to grab 2/27 in four overs to restrict Bangladesh to 146 for six in their stipulated 20 overs on a batting friendly Eden Gardens track.
He deservingly got ‘Man of the Match’ award and also the victory was a sweet revenge for Pakistan, who were ousted from Asia Cup by Mashrafe Mortaza’s men only a couple of weeks back.
Afridi very rarely plays rampaging innings these days but on Wednesday afternoon, he did show why he is known as ‘Boom boom’ as balls disappeared thick and fast into stands.
He hit four sixes apart from equal number of boundaries and his innings was the difference between 150 and 200.
Before Afridi’s carnage, Ahmed Shehzad (52 from 39 balls; 8×4) and Mohammad Hafeez (64 from 42b; 7×4, 2×6) had laid the foundation with a 95-run partnership from 68 balls.
Afridi got the perfect platform as he took just one single to settle down before smashing Mortaza for consecutive boundaries and a six.
Afridi was exquisite with his shot selection and had all the time to improvise as he raced to 25 from nine balls toying Bangladesh bowlers with ease on a fast outfield.
Such was his power that even his mistimed shots went over boundary and the 25,000-plus present in stands mostly comprised die-hard Afridi fans.
Afridi’s blitzkrieg along with half-centuries from Hafeez and Shehzad meant that their batting came to fore ahead of March 19’s big match against traditional rivals India who will be looking for survival after their loss to New Zealand yesterday.
In reply, Bangladesh was in no way in the game and the ‘Comeback kid’ Mohammad Amir provided the perfect start by unsettling Soumya Sarkar’s off-stump in the third ball.