Bengaluru, September 8: How do you describe Shahid Afridi? Maverick? Lunatic? Genius? Or may be a blend of all these? In his long career, Afridi has courted the love and ire of Pakistan fans very often but in the Asia Cup 2014 held in Bangladesh, the all-rounder raced into the fans' hearts.
The Dhaka pitch was slow and spinners from both the sides were leading the show. Batting first, India laboured their way to 245 for eight in 50 overs with Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma and Ravindra Jadeja making near-run-a-ball fifties.
But on a sluggish pitch where the ball was reticent to come to the bat, chasing 246 was not an ordinary task. Ahmed Shehzad made 42 of 44 balls, Mohammed Hafeez made a 75 off 117 balls and Shoaib Maqsood 38 off 53. But those knocks were just good enough to keep Pakistan in the loop - only by just.
With 13 runs needed of 12 balls with three wickets in hand, Pakistan eventually seemed to have mastered India, the pitch and the situation. But Bhuvneshwar Kumar delivered a brilliant 49th over. He picked up the wickets of Umar Gul and Mohammad Talha conceding just three runs.
Skipper Virat Kohli summoned R Ashwin who till then bowled a very economical spell for the 50th over. Ashwin castled Saeed Ajmal with a carrom ball off the first ball of the final over and at that juncture Pakistan had lost three wickets in the pace of seven balls scoring just three singles.
India seemed to have cross the line before Junaid Khan took a single in the second ball of the over to bring Afridi to strike. Sensing that Afridi moving away to make room to free his hands, Ashwin followed the batsman with a slightly short-pitched ball.
Afridi went ahead with the shot and sent it over deep extra cover boundary for a six despite connecting the ball with the bottom of his bat. The next ball too the pattern repeated. Afridi carted Ashwin over long-on and the ball cleared the ropes for a maximum despite coming off a leading edge.
Afridi stood in the middle of the pitch with his hands stretched and he even kissed - rather inadvertently - the non-striker Junaid Khan. The victory meant so much for him!