In a career lasting almost 20 years, Shahid Afridi was known for making astonishing comebacks. After being dropped from the 2013 Champions Trophy squad, the 'ever-young' allrounder from Pakistan made a stunning comeback against West Indies in a One-Day International at Providence. On this day, Afridi demolished West Indies with his all-round brilliance. He first slammed 76 off just 55 deliveries before scalping 7 for 12, the second-best bowling figures in ODIs.
The allrounder wasn't included in the 2013 Champions Trophy squad but was brought back after Pakistan failed to qualify for the knockouts. The likes of Younis Khan, Shoaib Malik and Kamran Akmal were dropped from the side and Afridi was given yet another opportunity to prove his mettle. He hadn't picked up a single wicket in his last seven ODIs, but the flamboyant cricketer responded with one of the great all-round ODI performances.
The best figures in ODIs belong to Chaminda Vaas. The Sri Lankan left-arm paceman took 8 for 19 against Zimbabwe in 2001.
A STUNNING COMEBACK
On a drizzly morning in Providence, fast bowler Jason Holder delivered a searing new-ball spell of 8-4-8-4. The Misbah-ul-Haq-led side were reduced to 47 for 5, with the likes of Nasir Jamshed, Ahmed Shehzad, Mohammad Hafeez, Asad Shafiq and wicketkeeper-batsman Umar Akmal all back in the hut. Misbah was once again fighting a lone battle, and that's when Afridi walked in.
Misbah was scoring at a strike rate of less than 50 and conditions were extremely tough for batting, but that didn't prevent Afridi from playing his natural game. The right-hander announced his arrival by smoking his third delivery for a maximum over long-off and never looked back from thereon.
He smashed Sunil Narine for 32 runs in his three overs and even didn't allow Marlon Samuels to settle. Afridi brought up his fifty off 35 deliveries and added 120 runs with Misbah for the sixth wicket. Afridi blasted six fours and five sixes during his stay in the middle and was dismissed by Kieron Pollard in the 39th over. While Afridi hammered 76 off 55 balls, the rest of the Pakistan team combined to score 120 off 245.
Chasing 225, Mohammad Irfan dismantled the West Indian top order by getting rid of Johnson Charles and Darren Bravo, while Chris Gayle was run out for just 1. The hosts were 37 for 3 at the end of 20 overs and that's when Afridi was introduced into the attack.
In only his second over, the legspinner accounted for Lendl Simmons and Dwayne Bravo in consecutive deliveries to reduce West Indies to 41 for 5. He then dismissed Pollard, Samuels and Kemar Roach in his next few overs and completed his five-wicket haul. Afridi also took care of the last two wickets (Narine and Holder) and bundled West Indies out for 98 in 41 overs. Pakistan won the encounter by 126 runs and took a 1-0 lead in the five-match series.
In the process, Afridi also became the only player in ODI history to score 7000 or more runs and take 350 wickets. His bowling figures are also the best for a bowler bowling third change or later in an innings.
Pakistan won the series 3-1, with one game ending in a tie. Afridi however couldn't contribute much in the next four ODIs, as he only managed 26 runs and picked up three wickets.
Pakistan also played two T20Is and Afridi was named Player of the Match in the first encounter. The right-hander slammed a 27-ball 46 and helped Pakistan win the encounter by two wickets.