Shahid Afridi: Farewell to a favourite

I understand that I may well be lynched on the streets for this one, but I think I will still go ahead with it! You see, my post is on a player who has fascinated me ever since I was old enough to understand cricket, and surprisingly, he happens to be a Pakistani (hence my fears!).
Shahid Afridi, has, without a doubt, played his last World Cup game on Wednesday, the game which took us to the finals, and sent him back home. But among all the hoopla surrounding our own team, I felt as if I had to dedicate atleast a few lines to the person who has unarguably been one of the greatest entertainers of the game.

The DLF IPL starts barely 5 days after the World Cup ends, which shows its meteoric rise in importance in the cricket calendar. Now suddenly we have people who are considered “T-20 specialists” and even a new type of bat, specially designed for big hitting! Shahid Afridi played the   T-20 style much before Lalit Modi decided to make it the next big money-minter in cricket. Sample this, people, he was 16 years 217 days old playing his second international match when he smashed a 37-ball century against Sri-Lanka in 1996. Stats of the match? Record for fastest century in ODI cricket. Record for most number of sixes in an innings(eleven). Record for youngest player to score an ODI century. All in a single match.This was the style he carried throughout his carrier, earning him the nickname Shahid “Boom Boom” Afridi.
Out of the seven fastest ODI centuries of all time, three of them are from his explosive bat. As of 27 February 2011, he has an ODI strike rate of 113.83 runs per 100 balls, the third highest in the game’s history.  He holds the record for the second highest scoring over ever in an ODI, scoring 32 runs in a single over. He also has the distinction of having hit the most number of sixes in the history of ODI cricket. Currently Afridi is the leading wicket taker in the Twenty20 format taking 53 wickets from 41 matches.
He has been terribly inconsistent, been mired in controversies and had horrible patches in his career. Probably never will he be considered among the greats. But for us, who grew up watching him demolish attacks like a juggernaut, he will be a legend. And yes, I know I will not be the only one when I say I will be missing the excitement of watching him come out to bat. Take a bow, Boom Boom!