Shaheen Afridi: How good has Pakistan's record-breaking pacer been in 2023 World Cup?

Left-arm fast bowler became the quickest pacer to 100 wickets in ODIs

Pakistan's Shaheen Afridi, third right, celebrates the wicket of Bangladesh's Tanzid Hasan with teammates during the ICC Men's Cricket World Cup match between Bangladesh and Pakistan in Kolkata, India. AP Photo
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Pakistan fast bowler Shaheen Afridi has returned to his best at the 2023 World Cup, rising to top of the table for wicket takers in the tournament.

While Pakistan have had an indifferent tournament so far, Afridi has been consistent throughout. Here we take a look at just how good Afridi has been so far.

Quickest pacers to 100 wickets in ODIs

Left-arm pacer Afridi joined the 100 wickets club with his three-wicket haul against Bangladesh at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata on Tuesday. In doing so, he became the quickest fast bowler ever to the milestone, reaching there in just 51 matches.

The previous record belonged to Australia’s Mitchell Starc, who had done it in 52 matches in 2016. Starc however had taken fewer balls (2,452) compared to 2,526 balls by Afridi.

With 16 wickets, Afridi is also the joint-leading wicket-taker in this World Cup with Australia’s Adam Zampa. No wonder he rose to the No1 spot in ODI rankings this week.

Best bowling averages in the World Cup

Afridi loves bowling in the ODI World Cup. Playing in his only second tournament, he has already taken 32 wickets in 12 games at an impressive average of 17.28, which is the third best in the World Cup among 47 bowlers who have taken 25 wickets or more.

At just 23 years of age, Afridi is the fourth highest wicket-taker from Pakistan in World Cups after Imran Khan (34), Wahab Riaz (35) and Wasim Akram (55).

To put Afridi's stunning rise in perspective, the legendary World Cup winning captain Imran took 34 wickets across five World Cups whereas Afridi has 32 in just two tournaments. What's even more amazing is that Afridi was not considered for four matches in the previous World Cup.

The best among Pakistan pacers

Pakistan are known for their fast bowlers and have produced many legendary pacers over the years. But Afridi has left all of them behind with his consistent performances.

Afridi, who made his ODI debut in Abu Dhabi in 2018, has 102 wickets at an average of 22.82, the best among 14 pacers from Pakistan with 100 or more wickets.

Afridi's striking prowess

Afridi has taken a wicket in each of his last 23 ODIs, by far the longest streak for a Pakistan bowler in ODI history with the next best being Saqlain Mushtaq and Shoaib Akhtar, who took a wicket in 16 consecutive ODIs.

Afridi's career strike-rate in ODIs is 25.2, the best among 116 fast bowlers in the world who have taken 100 or more wickets. What that means is on average, Afridi takes a wicket every 25 balls.

Most wickets since Afridi's debut

Since making his international debut in a T20 series against West Indies in April 2018 on the back of a fine season with Lahore Qalandars in the Pakistan Super League, Shaheen has been one of the most prolific bowlers in the world.

He has bagged 271 wickets across formats (Tests, ODIs and T20Is). Only two bowlers (Pat Cummins 275 and Mitchell Starc 280) have taken more wickets during this time.

Afridi has taken that many wickets despite missing six months of cricket in the previous season due to a knee injury.

Due to his consistent performance across formats, Afridi was named the ICC Men’s Cricketer of the Year for 2021, the youngest ever to get the highest award in cricket.

He is also the only Pakistan bowler who has an average below 26 each format (Tests 25.58, ODIs 22.82 and T20Is 22.73).

A man of many records

It’s not just ODIs where Afridi is creating records. He is equally good in other formats too, particularly T20s. This year, while playing for Nottinghamshire in the T20 Blast, he became the first bowler in history to take 4 wickets in the first over of the innings. That was done against Birmingham.

Afridi captains Lahore Qalandars in the PSL where he has won back-to-back titles in 2022 and 2023. The 2022 title made him the youngest captain to win a major T20 competition. He was 21 at that time.

No captain in the PSL has a better winning record than him.

Updated: November 02, 2023, 12:09 PM