The independent voice of cricket


Boom boom: The day that Shahid Afridi blazed 141 opening in a Test match

Shahid Afridi 141
by Max Parry 5 minute read

The first Test of Pakistan’s tour of India in 1999 was a thriller, laden with performances of note; six first innings wickets from Anil Kumble, a masterful fourth innings 136 from Sachin Tendulkar, and a five-for from Saqlain Mushtaq at the business end of the game. However, this match in Chennai was particularly notable for a knock played by Shahid Afridi.

Opening the batting in the third innings of a finely balanced Test that would ultimately be won by just 12 runs, Afridi blasted 141 – a score that made up nearly half of his team’s total. When Afridi walked out to the middle opening the batting with Saeed Anwar for Pakistan’s second innings, India had a lead of 16. The game was ripe for the taking, should someone perform with the necessary gumption to take it. As it happened, ‘Boom Boom’ needed no formal invitation.

Afridi began his innings as he intended to go on, flashing hard at Javagal Srinath from the get-go. The loss of Anwar with only 11 on the board didn’t faze him. Nor did the removal of Ijaz Ahmed with the lead only 26. Afridi’s intentions were abundantly clear to everyone. Following a thick edge over gully from a length delivery, the commentator simplistically, but no less accurately, remarked, “that’s the way Shahid Afridi knows how to play, if the ball is pitched up, within range, he’s going to go for the big hit.” Unsurprisingly, that was not the last ‘big hit’ of his innings.

After bludgeoning anything loose from the seamers to the rope, Mohammad Azharuddin turned to spin. However they could not stifle Pakistan’s young opener. Sunil Joshi, Sachin Tendulkar and the moustachioed Anil Kumble, who in 1998 averaged 19.38 with the ball, all endured the wrath of Afridi’s blade. He slashed width to the cover-point fence, swept liberally and launched anything that remotely resembled flight straight over the bowler’s head.

When the ball wasn’t there to be dispatched, Afridi, green-capped and collar-popped, manipulated the field and kept the score ticking with the help of Inzamam-ul-Haq, Mohammad Yousuf and Saleem Malik. However, such manipulation required the kind of restraint that for a man nicknamed Boom Boom was never going to be kept up for long; Afridi punished Tendulkar, swatting him through cover, before slog-sweeping Kumble over deep square leg to move into the 90s.

Back under his helmet, Afridi, one hit away from his maiden Test match hundred, bunted a ball on middle stump through mid-wicket to bring up his century off 134 balls, with 13 fours and three sixes.

With the score 279-7, Afridi was bowled looking to hammer the ball through mid-wicket, a shot characteristic of his blistering innings.

His scintillating 141 was not to be the last moment of the game to enthral the packed Chennai crowd. Chasing 271 to win, India were 254-6 on the final afternoon, requiring only 17 to win and with Tendulkar set on 136 in the middle. Five runs and four wickets later, Pakistan’s players were jubilant, having pulled off one of the great last gasp Test wins.

Have Your Say

Become a Wisden member

  • Exclusive offers and competitions
  • Money-can’t-buy experiences
  • Join the Wisden community
  • Sign up for free
Latest magazine

Get the magazine

12 Issues for just £39.99