BIRMINGHAM: The player of the match for Pakistan’s remarkable six-wicket win over New Zealand on Wednesday was Babar Azam, but there was another hero, Shaheen Shah Afridi, who bowled a memorable spell to push the Kiwis on the back foot.
The 19-year old pacer took three wickets for 28 runs in 10 overs, ripping through the top order to dismiss Colin Munro, Ross Taylor and Tom Latham and give Pakistan an early control of the game.
Talking at the mixed zone after the game, Shaheen said that he tries to follow Wasim Akram and his older brother Riaz Afridi.
“I follow Wasim Akram and want to be like him. I also take guidance from my brother Riaz Afridi who has played for Pakistan,” Shaheen said.
He added that Wasim Akram’s guidance helped him control the line and length of his deliveries, and revealed that he also spoke to his brother on the morning of the match who motivated him.
“They told me to control my line and length and not allow batsmen to settle down."
Afridi couldn’t start well in the tournament, but returned to the final XI after Hasan Ali couldn’t do much with the new ball.
The young fast bowler, who also plays for Lahore Qalandars in PSL, said bowling coach Azhar Mahmood helped him a lot in the nets so he could control his length in English conditions.
“I credit Ajju bhai, our bowling coach for this,” Afridi said.
“He worked hard with me in the nets to get my length improved according to the conditions here."
Afridi expressed hope that Pakistan would win both of their remaining games and qualify for the semis.
“I wasn’t even born in 1992, I don’t even know how things were 27 years ago so I’m not thinking about the similarities but yes, I’m focused on giving my best in this tournament."