Afridi will kill India's chances in World T20
Pray that the Pakistan captain is not in the mood to prey on Dhoni's boys on March 19.
- Total Shares
Be warned Team India. He is back and back with a bang, and has you in his sights.
Shahid Afridi rolled back the years and butchered a hapless Bangladesh in the World T20 at the Eden Gardens on March 16, plundering 49 runs off 19 balls, and then returning to take two crucial wickets, to set up a facile victory for his country.
On the back of Afridi's blitzkrieg and strong shows by Mohammad Hafeez, Ahmed Shehzad and a cameo by Sharjeel Khan, Pakistan piled up 201 in its stipulated 20 overs, which proved too much for Bangladesh.
The Pakistan captain's innings was studded with four fours and four sixes and had Mashrafe Mortaza and company running for cover. Now Bangladesh, you would perhaps agree, is no pushover. It is a team that is fresh from a runners-up finish in the Asia Cup. It had beaten Pakistan in that tournament and was playing at a venue which couldn't have been "closer to home". But when Afridi goes on the rampage, no advantage is really an advantage, and all one can do is to pray for the carnage to stop.
Yes pray. That's what Dhoni and company must do before it runs into Afridi on March 19. Pray that the Pakistan captain is not in the mood to prey on the Indians at the Eden Gardens. And hope that they can quickly see the back of Afridi, whose achilles heel has to be his inconsistency. Containing the Pakistan captain - nicknamed "Boom Boom" for his brute power-hitting - is out of question. If he stays at the crease, he will score, and score big.
Indians will do well to remember that this is a man who had held the record for the fastest hundred in ODIs for a very long time. They will also do well to remember the 46-ball 102 that Afridi scored in an ODI against them in 2005.
India has started its World T20 campaign in the worst way possible, going down with, at the most, a whimper to New Zealand. India's performance has been castigated in the media. Is complacency getting the better of the Indians. It is likely, considering India's dream run in T20s in recent times. Starting from the series against Australia in January this year, the Men in Blue had dropped only one match out of 11, and won seven on the trot before the match against New Zealand on Tuesday.
Dhoni said at a press conference ahead of the World T20 that his team was running on the "sixth gear". If this is not complacency, what is? Talking about the sixth gear, India's "car" had a terrible crash against New Zealand. India's performance against the Kiwis has drawn ire from all quarters.
Dhoni's team is hurt, weak and vulnerable. And Pakistan looks primed to go for the kill.
If Afridi doesn't get you, Amir must
What is really worrying for India is that neutralising Afridi won't set them out of jail. They then have to contend with Mohammad Amir. The left-arm pacer has been spitting fire since his return to international cricket, and would look to do well in front of 90,000 passionate fans at one of the world's premier stadia. He had given the Indians a mighty scare in the Asia Cup, when he reduced them to 8/3 in the third over, accounting for Rohit Sharma, Ajinkya Rahane and Suresh Raina, before Virat Kohli bailed India out.
This reminds me of the song that Australian fans made up, during the 1970s, when their team was giving England a really hard time. "Ashes to ashes, dust to dust, if Lillee doesn't get you, Thommo must," they said.
In the context of the India-Pakistan contest on March 19, we might as well replace (Dennis) Lillee and (Jeff) Thomson with Afridi and Amir.
A loss at the Eden would make it very difficult for India to qualify for the knockout stages. And bear in mind, Virat Kohli will not be the saviour everytime.
Pakistan would raise its game by many notches come Saturday. Does the beleaguered Team India have an answer?