Cricket has been my first love. It is in my blood. I skip classes to watch the matches during my school days. I remember finishing my 8th annual exam in hurry to get back home soon and to watch Pak vs Eng series in 2006. I started following Cricket at the age of 5, a year after something that changed the Cricketing world, an innings played by a 16-years old player from Pakistan. I personally didn’t see the innings but the breathtaking knock in Toronto was really captivating. I watched that 37-ball knock later on YouTube and the pain of not witnessing that inning subsided.The pictures quality was not that good but watching the young boy smoke six after six was exhilarating. Yeah, You are right.I’m talking about Shahid Afridi, The Super Star.
When I started following Cricket, there was an Era of 2W. This boy came and suddenly became a hero of millions hearts in no time.I found someone whom I could Cheer for. Watching such a blitz in those days was enough for me to get drawn to Afridi. For me he was all hitting and power but for many of the girls, he was more than that.I remember some girls how they would often ask me to get his posters from sports shop and stick them in their room.I remember my one friend who was so crazy for Afridi. Without a doubt I could say that she had found her hero too. I got more attached to Afridi and became fan of his bowling too.
Then came Sharjah, Afridi was on the rise-he was mesmerizing.I would say it wasn’t just joy and thrill that drew me to an Afridi innings. It was the notion that this crude form of batting could succeed in International cricket,albeit sporadically and that this was being allowed to bat with unrestrained freedom.For purity,I had Saeed Anwar drives, but for adrenaline it was always Afridi. Patience was never a virtue of Afridi. He liked speed and he thrived on entertaining fans with power.At the crease,he was always in hurry,whether he was batting or bowling.
Many beautiful memories and many wonderful performances to share and write about.How can I forget his 46 balls knock in Kanpur.Mr. Boom Boom came to open the innings and slammed 102 at 46 balls. And his top performances in semi final and final of WT20 made us win the World T20 CUP. and how could I forget ASIA CUP in 2014, with India at the receiving end again. 9 runs were needed on last 4 balls and it was Afridi on strike.
And when he was on crease We all Pakistani would be like “Ab-hi LALA hai yar,kuch bhi ho skta hai”. This was his trademark.While watching that last over, my heart was in my mouth and I knew that match is going to be decided in next two balls.I knew It will be out or Six. Only he had nerves to play that kind of shots at that point.I remember Ramiz Raja shouting in commentary box “Shahid Afridi You Beauty”.It was only Afridi that we were still expecting to come back in the match against Bangladesh when we needed 102 runs on 52 balls.And once again he delivered.
He may be over-rated, he may be impatient,he may not have statistics on his side.But he was an explosive package. He remained a hero to millions,a reason for smiles and a crowd favorite. Perhaps he is the most-loved Pakistan player in Pak, in India and in the world. Now, when he has retired from all formats of cricket, he is the one to ask for his farewell match.Its been a really sad factor of PCB, that we don’t respect our legends and don’t send players with honor.A person who served the country for 20 years, really deserve a honorable farewell.Perhaps, he wants to set a trend of respectable farewell for the cricketers who serve our country and make us proud.