"Everyone loves Afridi. He has been grossly misunderstood. In the beginning we thought he was a complete cricketer meant for all types of cricket. It took us 10 years to realize that he was actually fit for ODIs. Five years later we understood that he is really tailor made for T20s only. Now we know that he can actually be used as an example for young budding cricketers of how cricket should not be played.
In 1996 we thought he is a batsman who can bowl a bit. In 2006 we realized that in fact he is a bowler who can bat a bit. In 2013 we came to know that he is actually a "bit" who can neither bat nor bowl.
He is extremely talented. Among the batsmen of his caliber, he has the highest strike rate in ODIs. Other batsmen of his caliber are Murli Dharan, Danish Kaneria, Dilip Joshi and Abdul Qadir.
He is so tough that he eats cricket balls like cherry. Some say he actually took it literally when umpire threw the ball to him asking him to catch the cherry. Even the monsters like Joel Garner, Patrick Patterson and Merv Hughes could not dare pull such a stunt in front of live crowd. However, he showed every sign that he is a quick learner. After spending Fifteen years in international cricket, that fateful day, he actually learned that changing the shape of ball using teeth is not taken favorably in front of the crowd. He never repeated that feat again.
He holds the world record of playing least number of balls for anyone who has played more than 350 ODIs. As a matter of fact he has played less number of balls than the ODIs he has played.
There is no better site than seeing a crowd going berserk as Shahid Afridi enters the ground with chants of Boom Boom resounding in every corner of the stadium. Most of the time exactly after one ball it is followed by camera shot of wide eyed, open mouthed fans, with their tongues hanging outside, resting both of their hands on their heads while Afridi returns to the dressing room among hushed silence to finish his remaining cup of still hot tea. Our lovely crowd has repeated the above act hundreds of time and both Afridi and crowd have never disappointed each other in this act.
For a small patch (which lasted for around 15 years) Afridi struggled to find his batting form. But our people never gave up on him. We usually give new governments 100 days and democracy a couple of years before we lose patience but our love for Afridi is eternal. Most of us still believe that he is still learning and one day he'll silence all his critics.
As a batsman, he is the opposing captain's nightmare. If any team fails to get him out in three balls, captain of the team has to submit a written report to the board explaining and justifying the reasons for the delay. If they fail to get him out within a couple of overs a judicial commission is put in place.
In the cricketing world getting Afridi out in three balls is considered the minimum qualification for any bowler or captain to justify their spot in the team. This is called the Laala test and rumor is that almost anyone who has played cricket for three consecutive days should be able to pass this test.
Afridi is an enigma. Some people say that he is a spin bowler who bowls very fast. Others say that he is actually a fast bowler who bowls too slow.
But we love him because just like our nation he is passionate, naive, bent on not learning from his mistakes and hitting in the air year after year hoping against hope that this time it won't be caught.
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