Former Pakistan cricketer Shahid Afridi, renowned for regularly stirring up controversies with his outspokenness, has revealed how he got the better of Ravichandran Ashwin in the Indo-Pak clash of the Asia Cup 2014. In the match that went down to the wire, Pakistan narrowly edged past their arch-rival, courtesy last-over heroics from Afridi.
Virat Kohli was leading the Indian team in the absence of MS Dhoni, who missed the tournament due to injury. Batting first, India were restricted for a mediocre total of 254. The triumph for Pakistan looked almost inevitable.
However, disciplined bowling from Indian spinners added elements of twists and turns to the enthralling battle. Pakistan required 13 runs from the last two overs to win the contest with their explosive batsman Afridi on the crease.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar bowled brilliantly in the penultimate over, picking up two wickets and giving just three runs.
For the last over, Kohli gave this responsibility to Ashwin, who was arguably the best bowler for India in the match. The off-spinner sent Saeed Ajmal back to the pavilion in his very first ball.
“Saeed Ajmal was batting with me. I told him to put the bat on the ball and get a single. I told him not to go for the sweep shot but he ended up playing one and lost his wicket. Ashwin was bowling well, he was getting some purchase from the track too. Then Junaid Khan came in. I told him the same thing, just get a single. He somehow managed to get me back on strike,” Shahid Afridi narrated to sports presenter Zainab Abbas in his recent interview.
However, what transpired afterwards was a remarkable finishing touch to his own cameo from Afridi, hitting two consecutive sixes to knock India out of the tournament.
The legendary all-rounder stated how he tricked the Indian bowler not to bowl his usual off-spin.
“What I did against Ashwin was to look towards the leg side. I wanted to trick him so that he thinks that I am going to hit on the leg side. The idea behind it was to force the off-spinner not to bowl his off-spin. And Ashwin did exactly that. He bowled the leg-spin. I hit it over the extra cover region for a six.”
“The next delivery was a difficult one, I did not get it in the middle. I was in two minds, I was thinking will it go over the ropes or not. But in the end, the ball sailed over the fielder for a six. I breathed a sigh of relief,” Afridi concluded.
Pakistan’s euphoria came to an abrupt end after losing to Sri Lanka in the final of the tournament.
Meanwhile, the Asia Cup, scheduled to begin later this year, stands cancelled and has been postponed to 2021 due to COVID-19 pandemic.