ISLAMABAD – Pakistani all rounder Shahid Khan Afridi picked up 21 wickets in World Cup 2011 to be tied with Zaheer Khan for the most wickets in the tournament in just eight matches.
Pakistan headed into the 2011 World Cup without the most ideal of preparations, with Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis and even Afridi raising concerns. Afridi’s captaincy itself had come under question.
Yet, underlining the unpredictability of Pakistan cricket, the team did better than expected, putting behind it several crises of 2010, to become a force to reckon with in the tournament. Its dominance in the group stage gave the side confidence and birthed the dream of lifting the trophy.
Afridi’s 5 for 16 in Pakistan’s tournament opener against Kenya led it to a massive 205-run victory. That was not only Afridi’s first five-wicket haul of the tournament, but also the best figures for a Pakistan bowler in World Cups.
It would also be a stepping stone to something bigger. In Pakistan’s second game against Sri Lanka, Afridi picked up a four-wicket haul – en route to his 300th ODI wicket. Coming at crucial junctures, the wickets ensured Pakistan scraped through to a 11-run win and gave him his first Man of the Match award of the season.
But Afridi wasn’t finished yet. After nine wickets in two games, in his third, he notched up his second five-wicket haul against Canada, thus becoming the first player in World Cup history to take four or more wickets in three consecutive games.
He picked up one wicket each in the remaining three group stage games, helping Pakistan finish at the top of Group A, followed by Sri Lanka, Australia and New Zealand.
His “lean streak”, if you could call it that, came to end when it mattered the most. He delivered another four-wicket haul in the quarter-final against the West Indies to hand Pakistan a semi-final berth, where it would face India and have a crack at the final.
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