It took only five balls for Shaheen Shah Afridi to remind us what the world cricket was missing for the time he was sidelined due to an injury. Almost every other fast bowler at the international level could bowl a yorker, but only a few can bowl at will with incredible accuracy. And even fewer can send a shiver down the spine with a ball that doesn’t target your head, but a well-cushioned toe.
Shaheen Shah Afridi is one of those, and he put up a perfect demonstration of this virtue in his opening spell against Afghanistan when his yorker not only sent the opening batter Rahmanullah Gurbaz back to the pavilion, but also to the hospital for further treatment.
By the time Gurbaz could bring down his bat, the ball had already pinned him on his front leg. He grimaced in pain, and needed to be carried off by his teammates to the pavilion. Even though the term is used loosely in cricket, this was literally a toe-crushing yorker from Shaheen.
There’s no clarity on whether Gurbaz, who has undergone an X-ray, will be available for the opening match of the event. His absence will be a massive blow to Afghanistan, given he is among the most attacking batters in the team.
An over later, Shaheen bowled out Hazratullah Zazai to reduce Afghanistan to 11/2. He was almost unplayable in the opening stage, and finished with match figures of 4-0-29-2. As comeback goes, this was as emphatic as it gets. It was an alarming ring to the opening batters of the world, and especially to the Indian team, who will be up against the express pace of Shaheen on Sunday.
Last year in the T20I World Cup, Shaheen took the sting out of the India-Pakistan game with his opening spell. He will be roaring to go against the Indian top-order who are not very proficient against left- handed pacers.
Shaheen and Naseem Shah will be sharing the new ball duties for Pakistan, while Haris Rauf will be tasked to bowl in middle and death overs. They will be heading into the event with the most fearsome troika of fast bowlers.
Lead Image: Pakistan Cricket/Twitter