Former Pakistan captain Wasim Akram is of the opinion that not Virender Sehwag but Shahid Afridi changed the mindset of opening when it comes to Test cricket. Sehwag was renowned for his attacking style at the top of the order that gave sleepless nights to many top fast bowlers in his era.
When it comes to taking the new ball on in Test cricket as an opener, not many did the job better than Virender Sehwag. Sehwag, at the top of the order, gave sleepless nights to many top fast bowlers in his time. Australia’s David Warner, who plays in similar style in red-ball cricket, credited Sehwag for instilling confidence in him. Former Pakistan captain Wasim Akram said, long before Virender Sehwag revolutionised the role of an opener in Test cricket, it was, in fact, Shahid Afridi, who changed the dynamic of opening in Tests.
“In Test cricket, Sehwag came later but in 1999-2000 Shahid Afridi changed the mindset of opening in Test cricket. Even if I was the bowler I would know that I can get him out but also know that he can hit me for boundaries. He used to hit lose deliveries for sixes at will,” expressed Akram, reported Hindustan Times.
Sehwag opened for the first time in 2002 and went on to become one of the most feared openers scoring two triple centuries, while Afridi started his Test career as an opener in 1998 and just months later, scored a hundred against India at Chennai to mark his arrival in the format. Akram revealed that Afridi was not supposed to be a part of that touring Pakistan side in 1999 but he went against the selectors, trusting his gut feel and Imran Khan’s suggestion.
“I called Imran Khan before the tour selection. I told him ‘skipper I want to take Shahid Afridi on tour but a few selectors were against it. He told me ‘You should definitely take him, he will win 1-2 Test matches and make him open the batting.’ I generally discussed a lot with Imran, sometimes before the tour, sometimes during the tour and his suggestions always came in handy,” said the Pakistani pacer.
Afridi repaid the faith scoring a brilliant 141 in his second Test, with 21 fours and three sixes, against an attack comprising Javagal Srinath, Venkatesh Prasad and Anil Kumble helping Pakistan to a 12-run win and a 1-0 lead.
“What a knock it was on that Chennai track. Afridi used to dance down the track and hit Kumble and Joshi for sixes,” said the 53-year-old.
Pakistan ended up winning that Test series 2-1. Afridi’s Test career, however, did not take flight as he only managed to play 27 Test matches for Pakistan.