Shahid Afridi stormed the headlines back in 1996 when he smashed a century against Sri Lanka in Nairobi off 37 balls. It was just his second International game but the fastest ton record went unbroken for another 18 years.
Interestingly, the bat that made Afridi ‘a batsman’ was gifted to his then teammate Waqar Younis by none other than Indian cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar. Narrating the incident that saw Afridi plunder 104 off 40 balls, former Pakistan teammate Azhar Mahmood recalled Afridi was touring with the Pakistan A team to West Indies but was called in to replace an injured Mushtaq Ahmed.
“Shahid Afridi had debuted in Nairobi in 1996 after the Sahara Cup, where I made my debut. So Mushi got injured in that series and Shahid Afridi was touring with the Pakistan A team to West Indies and he replaced Mushi in that tournament,” Mahmood said on ‘The Greatest Rivalry’ podcast.
In his famous debut, Afridi did not get a chance to bat because he was supposed to come in at No. 6.
“In those days, the two Sri Lankan openers, Jayasuriya and wicketkeeper Kaluwitharana used to attack upfront. So, we thought we need someone who can bat at No.3. Afridi and I – Wasim said you guys go and try to slog [in the nets]. I was slogging sensibly and Afridi went against the spinners, murdering everyone in the nets.” said Mahmood.
Speaking on his conversion from ‘a bowler who can hit the ball’ to ‘a batsman’, Mahmood added:
“Next day, we got the game against Sri Lanka and they said he [Afridi] is batting at number three. I think Waqar got a bat from Sachin, he used the great Sachin’s bat and managed to get a hundred and after that, he became a batsman. Mainly he was a bowler who can hit the ball, but in the end, he had a wonderful career.
Especially that World Cup, 2011, he led the side very well, he was in the best of his form, he was bowling really well. He learned a delivery from the great Abdul Qadir – the ball that drifts in and hits your pads. So that was a great World Cup [for him] and he was batting great as well. Overall, it was a great World Cup for Pakistan, unfortunately, we lost to India but Shahid Afridi was a great asset for Pakistan.”
Shahid Afridi went on to become one of the all-time Cricketing greats, particularly in ODIs. Boom Boom also went onto become the skipper of the team and led the Men in Green to the semi-final of the 2011 World Cup. New Zealand all-rounder Corey Anderson bettered Afridi’s record in 2014 by a ball against West Indies.