Mohali, March 25: It's a semi-final to savour. The mother of all showdowns will unfold when India takes on arch rivals Pakistan in the last-four stage of the World Cup 2011. And one soldier of the opposition who will lurking in the shadows as India's potential nemesis is Shahid Afridi. The man who has taken the most wickets in the World Cup 2011 so far with 21 scalps has emblazoned his destructive reputation on the tournament. Now he will be licking his lips at the prospect of addind to his wicket tally when Pakistan takes the field at Mohali on March 30.
Ian Chappell termed Afridi a "lunatic" who is not fit to lead the Pakistan side. The Australian commentator was pointing to Afridi's erratic batting, especially the manner in which he throws the kitchen sink at inopportune deliveries when the situation least warrants such a display of miscalculated risk. Indeed he has been guilty of swinging his bat and consequently getting out even when his side's innings is delicately poised. As the team's skipper and a senior member of the side, shouldn't a little more maturity and restraint be in order?
But it seems the all-rounder has reserved all his venom and verve for his brand of leg-spin bowling which he unleashes with deadly precision. The fact that he has garnered three four-wicket hauls in the tournament thus far is testimant to his potency with the cherry in his hand. He can mmanouever his fingers to effect flight, rip, turn and bounce with enough of guile to bamboozle the most set batsmen.
If India is to weather this storm, the batting line-up should well have India leg-break Piysuh Chawla bowl excessively to them in the nets. This way, they will acclimatize themselves to the type of deliveries Afridi will be flinging their way and up their readiness quotient to counter him.
Another habit of Afridi's which Ian Chappell claims augments his aura of idiocy is the manner in which he stand astride the pitch with his hands raised in the air every time he claims a wicket. While such behaviour is his prerogative, India would mush rather prefer to see this destroyer's head drop when he takes on their batting line up at MOhali next Wednesday.