Is Shaheen Shah Afridi as effective and dangerous a bowler as Wasim Akram?

Is Shaheen Shah Afridi as effective and dangerous a bowler as Wasim Akram? “No matter how much Pakistani fans and some cricket experts praise Shaheen Shah Afridi, there is no comparison between him and Wasim Akram,” said former Indian captain and coach Ravi Shastri recently. has said

While the Indian team was batting in the match against Pakistan in Ahmedabad, during the commentary, Ravi Shastri asked his fellow commentators not to praise Shaheen Shah Afridi too much.

Ravi Shastri added that there is no need to fear Shaheen Shah Afridi, Shaheen is not Wasim Akram. He is a good bowler but there is no need to praise him so much.

There is no problem in saying that he is a decent bowler but no one needs to be forced to say that Shaheen is an incredible bowler.

It is no secret that Pakistani fans have been praising Shaheen Shah Afridi for a long time and they believe that it will not be difficult for Afridi to dismiss Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma.

But the reality is that it might have happened in an innings or two, apart from Kohli and Sharma, the rest of India’s batsmen have been beating his bowling techniques from time to time.

Shaheen Afridi’s performance in this World Cup

As always, in this World Cup, the strength of the Pakistani team was considered to be their fast bowling.

But Pakistan’s fast bowlers have not been able to do anything special in the three matches played so far, on the basis of which Pakistan can hope to win the World Cup.

A less cricketing team like the Netherlands also scored runs against Pakistan while a less experienced team like Sri Lanka also scored more than 300 runs against Pakistan.

Then when the match took place against India, the team was all out for 191 in the 43rd over. Pakistani bowlers also could not do anything special and India achieved this target in just the 31st over.

Pakistan had high expectations from their fast bowlers including Shaheen Shah Afridi, Hasan Ali, and Haris Rauf, but the trio disappointed the fans.

In the three matches played in the World Cup, Shaheen Shah has taken only 4 wickets at an average of around 35.

Shaheen has also maintained an economy of 6.31 runs per over, making him an expensive bowler and not a ‘great’ one.

Against the Netherlands he took one wicket for 37 runs, against Sri Lanka he gave 66 runs for one wicket and against India he took two wickets for 36 runs. Both these wickets fell due to errors by the batsmen.

In the Ahmedabad match, when Indian openers Rohit Sharma and Shibman Gul started aggressively, Shaheen Shah also looked helpless. In this low-scoring match, Pakistan needed to get wickets at a fast pace, which Afridi could not do.

A brilliant catch by Gayle was caught at point by Shadab Khan while Rohit Sharma’s wicket will also be considered a soft out.

After this match, former Pakistani bowler Shoaib Akhtar also criticized Pakistani bowling.

Shoaib said that ‘Rohit Sharma single-handedly destroyed the entire bowling and the Indian team defeated Pakistan like children in this match.’

Is the pitch the reason for Shaheen’s performance?

Some commentators blamed the black clay pitch, on which the ball was coming in a bit. But this reason is also baseless because Bumrah bowled effectively on the same pitch and conceded only 19 runs in 7 overs. While Afridi scored 36 runs in 6 overs.

Comparing Bumrah and Afridi in this match, Gautam Gambhir said that Bumrah is the most important player for his team and captain.

Gautam Gambhir also said that Bumrah was bowling in the scorching sun at 2 p.m. while Shaheen got the chance to bowl in the evening. This is a more favorable time for swinging. Then there was an edge in Bumrah’s bowling.

In an interview given to the news agency ‘AFP’, former Pakistani fast bowler Waqar Younis also advised Shaheen Afridi that if he wants to show an effective performance in the World Cup, he should learn from Bumrah.

Waqar further said that the ‘missing link’ in Shaheen’s bowling is discipline and he seems to be busy trying to get an early wicket. When you do the same thing over and over again, like Shaheen bowling his yorker, the batsmen know that and they prepare for it.”

But the Ahmedabad pitch cannot be an excuse as Shaheen could not do anything special in the last two matches, which were played in Hyderabad, despite the Pakistan team practicing and spending a lot of time there. Even in the practice match played there against Australia, Shaheen could not get many wickets.

So should we say that even the wicket of Hyderabad did not suit Shaheen?

No such excuse could be expected from the great bowler Wasim Akram as he was a bowler capable of taking wickets on every wicket and in every condition.

Comparison in data

Just take a look at the statistics of Wasim Akram and Shaheen Shah and you will see that there is a huge difference between the two.

Shaheen Shah has so far taken 108 wickets in 27 Test matches at an average of 25.58.

In 47 ODI matches, he has 90 hits at an average of 23.86. He took 64 wickets in 52 international T20 matches.

On the other hand, Wasim Akram took 414 wickets at an average of 23.6 in 104 Test matches while he took 502 wickets at an average of 23.5 in 356 ODI matches.

Firstly, the number of wickets is high and Shaheen Afridi will likely have to bowl at his peak for a long time before he can get close to it.

Secondly, anyone can have a good average in fewer matches, but only a bowler like Wasim Akram can maintain such a good average in more than 100 Tests and more than 300 ODIs.

He could take wickets even on any flat wicket with the help of great swing. No wonder he was called the ‘Sultan of Swing’.

Earlier also in the year 2020, a Pakistani channel compared Shaheen Shah and Naseem Shah with the pair of Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis.

Then Waqar said that they should not rush, both of them are good wicket-taking bowlers but they are not yet fit for this competition.

Afridi’s Other Weaknesses

Shaheen Afridi’s one weakness is his fitness. He is young but often has to miss matches due to back or side strain or pain.

Along with this fitness issue, there has also been a difference in their speed.

Earlier he used to bowl at 145 or 150. Currently, he is bowling at an average of 130 which sometimes goes up to 136-137.

Former Pakistan all-rounder Abdul Razzaq believes that his bowling has made a difference due to the reduced pace.

While giving an interview to a Pakistani channel, he said ‘Earlier when his pace was good, the ball would fall in the right place and the swing was also available. If you look at his bowling in Ahmedabad, you will know that he got less swing.

However, the truth is that the picture is still there and only time will tell if he can match Wasim Akram. But for that, he will have to bowl at the top level with full fitness for at least a decade.

Also, the way the batsmen perceive Shaheen Afridi’s intentions, he will have to bring more variety in his bowling to deal with this situation.

And while doing all this, he will have to maintain his speed. So is Shaheen Shah Afridi ready for this?

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