'He's their batting's backbone': Shaheen Afridi lauds Virat Kohli, reflects on magical T20 WC spell vs India

WION Web Team
New Delhi, IndiaUpdated: Feb 01, 2022, 12:47 PM IST
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Shaheen Afridi opened up on his magical spell versus Team India in the 2021 T20 World Cup clash, where he had dismissed the likes of Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul.

India and Pakistan locked horns with each other in the 2021 Men's T20 World Cup, in the UAE. Both sides played their respective Super 12 opening clash against each other on October 24 at the iconic Dubai International Cricket Stadium, Dubai. 

While many expected the Virat Kohli-led Indian team to extend their unbeaten run versus the arch-rivals in World Cup history, Babar Azam's Men in Green thrashed the one-time winners by ten wickets. Shaheen Afridi was the star performer for Team Pakistan as he returned with 3 for 31. The youngster's opening spell pushed India on the backfoot, reducing them to 6 for 2 with openers Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul back in the hut. While then captain Kohli stood tall with an impressivr 57, he was also dismissed by Shaheen in his last spell as Men in Green restricted India's famed batting line-up to 151-7. In reply, Babar and Md Rizwan's respective half-centuries propelled the team to a massive ten-wicket win.

Recently, Shaheen reflected back on the team atmosphere prior to the marquee clash, his magical spell and lauded India's top order. In a chat with Cricbuzz, Shaheen said"Most players were playing for the first time against India in a T20 World Cup, except Hafeez bhai and Shoaib bhai. And for us, it was an opportunity. The kind of cricket we played, we were very prepared and we had belief in each other. The captain's role is crucial and he backed me and the team a lot. The dressing room environment was quite friendly."

He opined, "There was a sense that if Shaheen can't, then Hasan Ali will... and if Hasan Ali can't, then Haris Rauf will. We had to play our best cricket and make people happy back home. And it was good fortune that we ended up on the right side."

On the famed trio -- Kohli, Rohit and KL and the strategy behind getting the better of them

In this regard, Shaheen said, "The end I was bowling from, the leg-side boundary was smaller, say about 60-65 meter only. If I had bowled straight and fast at him [Virat Kohli], he would have flicked me or pulled me for runs. So I wanted to mix things up and bowl a slow bouncer at him so that it would have been difficult for him to go leg-side."

"Luckily for me, the ball gripped and he got out. I admire Virat Kohli a lot, he's one of the best around. Rohit, Rahul and Kohli are their mainstays and three of the best batsmen in the world. Kohli unki reedh ki haddi hai (Kohli is their spinal cord). And once you get them out, it gets difficult for the middle order," he added.

For the unversed, India and Pakistan will once again lock horns with each other in this year's Men's T20 WC, to be held in Australia. They both are in Pool 2 and will meet at the iconic Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) on October 23.