Pakistan star pacer Shaheen Afridi has shed light on how he tackled the India batting trio of Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul and Virat Kohli at the 2021 ICC Men’s T20 World Cup. Thanks to Afridi’s three wickets, Pakistan ended their jinx against India at the world cups, registering their first ever win over their fierce rivals when the competition was held in UAE last year.
Afridi’s new-ball spell proved to be the difference between the two teams as he first trapped Rohit lbw for a first-ball duck in the very first over and then bowled Rahul on three in his following over.
“Rohit, Rahul and Kohli are their (Indian team’s) top batters and three of the best in the world. Kohli is their backbone. And once you get them out, gets difficult for the middle order. Of one of them bats deep, it gets easier for those coming in to bat later. I was getting some swing in that match and the team anyway hopes wickets from me early on – so I was trying to pitch it up to Rohit and Rahul and was able to get both of them out,” Afridi told Cricbuzz.
Kohli, the then captain, revived the innings with a well-compiled half-century – 57 off 49 – and helped India to a decent total. Afridi returned in the death-overs to account for Kohli’s wicket as well and ended with figures of 3/31.
“The end I was bowling from, the leg-side boundary was smaller, was about 60-65 meter. If I bowled straight and fast at him (Kohli), he would have flicked or pulled for runs. So I wanted to mix things up and bowl a slow bouncer at him. It would become difficult for him to target the leg-side then. Luckily for me, the ball gripped and he got out. I admire Virat Kohli a lot, he’s one of the best in the world,” Afridi explained.
Pakistan chased down the target in 17.5 overs and recorded a 10-wicket win.
“It was a great day for me, to be honest. A lot of people watch India-Pakistan matches, including those who don’t even like cricket. When I look back on that win, I feel very proud. We couldn’t win the World Cup but did well in that game against India and I’ll try to give my best even in the next World Cup,” the 21-year-old said.