Three matches and three heroes

The nation is truly proud of Shaheen Shah Afridi, Haris Rauf and Asif Ali

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Different games are played with a different number of players. In boxing, one boxer is against one boxer, so a team winning or losing wholly depends on the individual in the ring. In tennis, there are two formats, one against one and two against two, and when playing in pairs the one who slacks can be covered by their partner. In basketball, there are five players pitched against five, and amongst them one can shine proving to be better than the other four. A volleyball team consists of six players on each side, and here also one player is the hero of the team. There are seven players fighting against seven in kabaddi, and the best one proves his worth to earn laurels for his team. In cricket, hockey, and football, a team of 11 players plays against 11, and one player from each team is called the player of the match because of his individual exclusive performance.

Shaheen is falcon in English, the bird known for flying not only at a great speed but is also quite capable of rapidly changing his direction. As it is gifted with an exceptional power of vision, a falcon is a terror for many. Quite interestingly, Shaheen Shah Afridi has proved to be a falcon type of a bowler in many matches before playing in the 2021 ICC T20 World Cup. On October 24, Pakistan played its first match against our arch-rival India; it was a much-awaited match not just for Pakistan and India but other nations as well. Even a league match between Pakistan and India is not less than a final match.

India had scored 151 after losing seven wickets while Pakistan’s openers Babar and Rizwan scored 152 and Pakistan won the match. India sent their seasoned and experienced openers, K L Rahul and Rohit Sharma, to lay a solid foundation by scoring many runs so that those who followed them were not under much strain. Our falcon Afridi bowled the ball that hit Sharma, who was declared out for LBW when India’s score was just one run. Afridi struck again as Rahul, despite his full efforts, could not stop the ball from touching the wickets; he left the crease after scoring three runs in eight balls. India was badly crippled at an early stage, something India could not dream of.

When Babar Azam realized that the Indian captain Virat Kohli may pose a threat to us, he reintroduced Afridi who successfully trapped Kohli who had scored very valuable 57 runs. India’s sixth wicket had fallen at 133. Afridi gave away just 31 runs and bowled out three players, a marvellous achievement. Shaheen Shah Afridi was declared the “Man of the Match.” India scored 151 after losing seven wickets.

Pakistan played its second match against New Zealand, and we comfortably defeated the Black Caps. Pakistanis were greatly annoyed when New Zealand cancelled its tour of Pakistan a few hours before the first match in Rawalpindi. New Zealand batted first and scored 134/8. In that match, not just Afridi but Haris Rauf did magic with the ball; he did not let any New Zealander settle down and score at will. On the contra, he played havoc with the ball that New Zealanders failed to cope with.

Rauf sent back the opener Martin Guptill; Guptill scored 17 runs in 20 balls and was the first victim of Rauf’s bowling. Devon Conway was playing well too, contributing as 27 runs in 24 balls, but Haris did not allow him to score more. He was the second victim of Rauf’s bowling. Alarm bells started ringing for the New Zealanders, and their captain Kane Williamson must have been worried when Pakistani bowlers were continually striking against New Zealand batsmen. Rauf removed Glen Philipps at 13 runs. More bad luck for New Zealand when Rauf bowled out Mitchell Santer who scored six runs in five balls. Haris Rauf was the hero and was named “Man of the Match” for his brilliant bowling: four over, 22 runs and four wickets.

The third match against Afghanistan was very exciting, and even scary, as our team faced a bit of a tough time. At one stage, it seemed that the result would be known only in the last ball of the last over. Afghanistan opted to bat and tasked us to score 148 runs to win the match. We had controlled the Afghan batsmen to a great extent, and the chances were quite bright that we would win the match. But the Afghan pair, Ghulbadin Naib and captain Mohammad Nabi, started hitting the ball, creating uneasiness in our team.

We started well but lost Mohammad Rizwan at a very early stage, a huge shock. Azam played a real captain’s innings, but we kept losing wickets. We touched the climax when 24 runs were to be scored in 12 balls. Asif Ali, in a do or die mood, hit four sixes to score 24 runs in the 19th over. Asif Ali was named the “Man of the Match.”

The nation is truly proud of Shaheen Shah Afridi, Haris Rauf and Asif Ali. We thank Allah, Babar Azam, and the rest of the team for making our flag fly so high. I pray and not just wish that we lift the World Cup, amen.