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Friday, April 22, 2011


With Pakistan’s tour of the West Indies set to begin today, let us take a look at Shahid Afridi and his role as the captain of the national team. There are aspects of the talismanic captain that still raise questions as to what his strengths and weaknesses are, as a skipper.
After emerging on the world stage and making a name for himself as an aggressive batsman, Afridi’s game has undergone many transformations. Although he was originally selected in the side as leg-spin bowler, he has been followed by fans for his flamboyant batting.
Shahid Afridi – A tactically astute captain or an inspirational leader?
Criticised for his poor shot selection on more than just a few occasions, the player would often find himself as a liability for the side, which resulted in Afridi being dropped for the 1999 World Cup final against Australia.
Afridi, however, transformed his game once again to become one of the most feared spin bowlers in modern day cricket. His 21-wicket haul in the ICC World Cup 2011 was the highest in the tournament, as the all-rounder led his side to the semi-final of the mega event.
Tactician or Leader
As a tactician, the jury on Shahid Afridi is still a mixed bag of critics. His pre-match planning before every game seems to reap the desired results. His ‘plan for the Australians’ in the group stage of the World Cup worked to near perfection, as Pakistan became the first team to beat the defending champions after 13 years.
While his pre-match strategy appears to be sound, his ability to adapt to the constantly changing direction of a cricket match, is still up for debate. Many questions were raised when Afridi opted not to take the batting power-play when Misbah-ul-Haq was at the crease, in the semi-final against India, in Mohali.
The tactic demonstrated a lack of flexibility from the captain in a pressure situation and could be one of his drawbacks as a leader.
Afridi’s nature has never been of a person who relies on tactics, as his batting has demonstrated throughout his career. The Pakistan Captain is known for his passion and enthusiasm, which he puts in while on the field.
The aggressive batsman’s strength has been his ability to unite the team and get them all working for the same cause. Afridi backed his spirit, with match winning performances to inspire his side. His three four-wicket hauls in the World Cup, along with a five-wicket one helped his team to make it to the final four of the tournament.
Afridi leading the side gives the team a sense of togetherness, which had not been seen in the squad for ages. The skipper is always seen talking to his players, keeping them calm in tight situations, which is crucial to keep the game under control.
Although he may not be the best when it comes to the technical aspect of the role of captaincy, the fact remains that Shahid Afridi is more of an inspirational figure the side can look to, in times of need.
The success of Pakistan in the World Cup is proof that his approach is not to be taken lightly and the West Indies need to be wary when they face his side in the upcoming series to begin today.

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