Karachi, June 25 : Pakistan all-rounder Shahid Afridi, who was once a fearsome pinch-hitter when it came to batting, seems to have lost his vigour, as was witnessed yesterday during the ODI against Hong Kong when he returned to pavilion after scoring just four off six balls.
In his last 23 ODIs, 28-year-old Afridi has scored just a single fifty - a match-winning 85 on a batting paradise at Multan against minnows Zimbabwe - almost five months back.
The last of his four ODI centuries came way back on April 15, 2005, when he plundered India in a 46-ball 102 at Kanpur. Had Afridi been in that kind of form, he would have massacred a Hong Kong attack that is made up for part-time cricketers to the delight of a small crowd here at the National Stadium, reported The News.
But, that Afridi seems to have become history now, it added.
According to the paper, such unimpressive batting displays have become a routine for Afridi, who many pundits still regard as one of the biggest assets of Pakistan cricket. His aggression is still very much there but is now more visible in his leg-spin bowling rather than his batting. His attacking streak seems to have deserted him, so has the lightning reflexes. He used to exude confidence on the field, but that quality is hardly visible when Afridi goes out there to bat, the paper said further.
Even the veteran Pakistani cricketers are noting a difference in Afridi's on-the-field performance. Former skipper Rameez Raja said something is definitely wrong with Afridi. "I've been noticing a difference in the way he bats for quite sometime. He (Afridi) seems to hesitate a lot. I'm not sure why but that is certainly affecting his batting," the paper quoted Rameez as saying.
Rameez advised Afridi will have to bat up the order to come out of the lean patch. "I think the only way Afridi can overcome this lean patch is by batting up the order. He should be opening the innings. That way he would get plenty of overs and I'm sure that within a few games, he would be in full flow again," said the former captain.