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Asia Cup

Asia Cup: When Afridi did an Afridi to seal an India-Pakistan game with two sixes

Shahid Afridi Asia Cup 2014
Abhishek Mukherjee by Abhishek Mukherjee
@ovshake42 5 minute read

Pakistan needed nine in four balls. There was little wrong with what R Ashwin bowled at that stage, but Shahid Afridi cleared the ropes twice.

Four years had passed since Harbhajan Singh had hit Mohammad Amir for six to seal an Asia Cup match in Dambulla. Afghanistan had taken giant strides meanwhile, and the ACC had expanded the 2014 Asia Cup, in Bangladesh, to five teams.

Sri Lanka got off to a terrific start in the tournament, beating Pakistan and India in their first two matches to as good as seal a berth in the final. India beat Bangladesh and Pakistan beat Afghanistan, and it became evident that barring an upset, the India-Pakistan match – the first of the 2014 edition to be held in Mirpur – was a virtual semi-final.


Rohit Sharma (56), Ambati Rayudu (58), and Ravindra Jadeja (52 not out) helped India post 245-8 on a pitch where Saeed Ajmal (3-40) and Mohammad Hafeez (2-38) shared five wickets. Pakistan began well before R Ashwin (3-44) and Amit Mishra (2-28) reduced them to 113-4.

Hafeez (75) and Sohail Maqsood (38) then took the score to 200 before falling in quick succession, leaving Pakistan to score 43 in 32 balls. Afridi blasted Jadeja over mid-wicket for six and paddle-swept the next ball for four; at the other end, Umar Gul smashed a six as Bhuvneshwar Kumar erred in length.

Pakistan needed 17 in three overs, but Mohammed Shami conceded only four to keep India in the hunt. Two singles later, Bhuvneshwar had Gul caught brilliantly by Ajinkya Rahane at long-off. And off the last ball, he got Mohammad Talha caught at long-off, this time by Jadeja.

Ashwin came on to defend 10 off the last over. Ajmal, champion off-spinner himself, misread the carrom ball, went for a violent sweep, missed the line and turn completely and lost his middle stump. No.11 Junaid Khan then managed to get off strike.

Most would have backed India at this point. They had, after all, to bowl four balls or claim the last wicket before Pakistan could score those nine runs. But then, they were up against a man who holds the ODI record for most sixes even as of 2022. Two nights later, he would blast a 25-ball 59 to pull off another heist, against Bangladesh. Ten of his career fifties would come in 22 balls or fewer.

Ashwin continued round the wicket. Afridi moved away, outside the leg-stump. Ashwin held the length back. Afridi could have played out the ball and waited – but that would not have been Afridi. He went for the shot despite there being a fielder at deep extra-cover. His brute force cleared the man.

There was little doubt over Afridi’s plan of action. There was little wrong with Ashwin’s ball, either. Afridi went for it. He did not middle it at all, and the ball gathered more height than distance – but none of that mattered. So hard had he hit the ball that it still cleared long-on.

And his teammates rushed onto the field to celebrate, just like Harbhajan’s had at Dambulla in another Asia Cup match four years ago.

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