Afridi’s Mad Army

first_imgThe Pakistan cricket team has more zany characters in one side than the rest of World Cup teams put together. The word’s out: Shahid Afridi’s green brigade might lift the glittering trophy on April 2 in Mumbai. Wasim Akram, a former Pakistan captain, has called it cricket’s incomparable madness. The side has won two matches on the trot, deflating former champions Sri Lanka on their home ground.Occasional prayers on the field, fights over who will bowl the opening spell, community dinners (and lunches on rest days), special supplications to avoid India in the quarter-finals, bans on shopping and nights-out as well as sudden checks on usage of handsets has left the team with just one focus, one target – Returning to their embattled country with the Cup.A look at their eleven: Shahid AfridiCaptain ControlAllah is maalik for anything and everything. That does not stop Shahid Afridi, 31, from being a control freak. He has told his family that he will return only with the World Cup and refuses to let his players’ whims get in the way. He has led from the front and believes he is one of world’s top batsmen. But his batsmen often cannot run fast enough between the wickets and his bowlers are confused about who will get the first ball to start the day. Afridi’s balm is his favourite song, 18 Till I Die by Bryan Adams.Bookies’ Bad BoyThe left-arm spinner could not make an impact against Sri Lanka. Abdur Rehman, 31, just got one wicket and dropped catches. He is already on the scanner of coach Waqar Younus and manager Intikhab Alam and, of course, Afridi. That doesn’t bother Rehman because he never watches the replays. His only worry is that he is hated by the bookies in Pakistan-they call him the bad boy-who doubt the dropped catches against Sri Lanka.advertisementMohammad HafeezThe Hidden TalentHe is an opener, needs his partner, luck and Allah to win the day, especially after his disastrous run out against Sri Lanka. His team mates may think otherwise, but Mohammad Hafeez, 30, considers himself the most valuable player in the side. He has told Afridi that he has a marvellous all-round technique as a right-hand batsman and a right-arm off-spin bowler. Afridi did not care to reply or argue.Wrong NumberPakistan expects Umar Gul, 26, to get the early wickets. Prayer and pressure are constant companions of one of Pakistan’s craftiest seam bowlers. His true love seems to be his hair. His teammates joke that he is constantly looking for Shoaib Akhtar’s shampoo. At the moment he is getting more wickets than the other hair lover, Shoaib Akhtar.Shoaib AkhtarThe Nightwatchman No nights out, just chuck those fireballs. Shoaib Akhtar, 35, has to prove to both fast bowling legend Wasim Akram and coach Waqar Younis that he is Pakistan’s best bet. But some of his friends in India-including Shahrukh Khan and Karan Johar-have told him to enjoy life. Which may be why, in his last moment under the sun, breaking the curfew in Bangladesh, Akhtar took Kamran Akmal for a night out.Face of the NationMisbah-ul-Haq, 36, must get the runs for the side. Pressure mounted on him right from the day the team boarded a flight for Dhaka for the opening ceremony. When he walks out to bat, he just sees the wicket and prays that it doesn’t get hit. He keeps a dartboard with Joginder Sharma’s photo pasted on it. Sharma took the catch of him that defeated Pakistan in 2007. He may be a bit overweight but resents being called an aloo.Younis KhanKhan DoHe is Pakistan’s answer to India’s Sachin Tendulkar and Australia’s Ricky Ponting. Younis Khan, 33, must score runs, otherwise he could face the isi on return. He wants to be subtle and stylish like Rahul Dravid but the team management is wary of fielding him for any press conference. Once in India, when a scribe asked him if he was happy about Indian hospitality, he said he did not go to any hospital. He often smiles when the team is on the verge of defeat. He is visiting a hair specialist to check his receding hairline.Smiling AssassinNervous to the core, the snappy wicket-keeper wants to earn money by writing columns. The problem is that he does not know how to write. Kamran Akmal, 29, has offered his phone number to friendly journalists for quotes. Afridi has asked him to slow down behind the stumps as his antics reminded him of Paksitan’s cricket maverick, Javed Miandad. He has compared him to India’s Kiran More. When Akmal was offered a toothpaste ad, the bet was on how many teeth he would show.advertisementUmar AkmalThe Little BrotherHe watches his brother Kamran perform, and then tries to imitate. Umar Akmal’s world revolves around Kamran. The 20-year-old wants to smile like Kamran, specially when Afridi scolds him, which is often. There were question marks hanging over his inclusion in the playing xi prior to the World Cup, but his fireworks against Kenya have earned him a new name, pocket dynamite.Hide and SeekHe is the double delivery man in the side. Abdul Razzaq, 31, must get big scores every time Pakistan bats and also pick up early wickets. Otherwise his enemies will force the Pakistan Cricket Board to drop him from the national team. The most interesting thing about this all-rounder is that he vanishes from the scene for years and the re-appears with amazing regularity. He hates the pressure of saving the team but has told his mates that he can live with it.Ahmed ShehzaadPraying on DangerAhmed Shehzad, 20, prays five times before stepping out. Australian captain Ricky Ponting is his idol. Someone asked him what he likes most in Ponting, pat came the reply, “aggression.” Shehzad is now learning the trick of breaking tv sets with his gloves. He attributes his brilliant fielding to Ponting who recently broke an lcd tv screen with his gloves. Shehzad has been often seen targeting tv screens with his gloves and that’s the secret behind his sharp throws. He is also proud of his series-winning performance against New Zealand in February.last_img

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