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Is Boom Boom career heading towards sad end?

13 December, 2012

LAHORE: Is Shahid Afridi's One-day and Twenty20 internationals career heading towards a sad end after his expulsion from Pakistan one-day format team.

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It is fact that he remained out of form throughout last year and was struggling in the recently-concluded National Twenty20 Cup as well.

Earlier, the selectors had already announced that Afridi was not the automatic choice for selection and they did same what they said and preferred youngsters in his place for the three one-day international matches against India and selected him only for two Twenty20 international games.

The Boom Boom Afridi's name would have been the first on Pakistan's one-day international team sheet, but the all-rounder's future looks uncertain after his ouster for this month's series against arch-rivals India.

The 32-year-old has endured a dreadful run of form, scoring just 85 runs in his last 10 ODI innings, prompting selectors to axe him from the 15-man squad for three-game series starting later this month.

The warning bells are ringing for the man whose dismissal had often emptied stands in the past. In his 349 ODIs Afridi has taken 348 wickets and scored 7,075 runs  with strike rate of nearly 114 runs per 100 balls -- but he has not scored a half-century in his last 10 innings, a slump former England great Geoffrey Boycott has called embarrassing. "In the early days when he was playing and batting well, he tended to believe his own publicity. People wanted him to hit big sixes, everybody was raving for him, and he kept trying to oblige." But former Pakistan captain Rashid Latif insisted Afridi, Pakistan's third most-capped one-day player of all time, could still make a comeback. "Afridi is facing tough times. Even a player like Ricky Ponting had to quit after he failed to score runs", said Latif.

"But Pakistan is different in the way that a player can stage a comeback after a good performance and Afridi can still do so." Another former captain, Moin Khan, described Afridi's axing as unjust.

"Afridi is an impact player," said Khan. "He holds a psychological dominance over India so he should have been included."

Afridi burst onto the international stage in 1996, aged just 16 he smashed a 37-ball century -- still an ODI record -- against Sri Lanka in only his second match, and his explosive batting style earned him the nickname "Boom Boom". The shortest form of the game brought more fame for Afridi as he starred in Pakistan's World Twenty20 triumph in England in 2009, helping the team with both bat and ball.

The performance elevated him to the captaincy the following year and he led Pakistan to the semi-final of the 2011 World Cup but differences with coach Waqar Younis and then Pakistan Cricket Board chairman Ijaz Butt almost ended his career prematurely. His reversal decision of retirement from all formats of the game is set to cost him dearly and it felt he would not be able to deliver for Pakistan in the prevailing circumstances. His form suffered and at this year's T20 World Cup in Sri Lanka in September-October he was a shadow of the player he once was, scratching and groping for runs where once he smashed the ball to all corners.

Afridi admitted he was not up to expectations but vowed to fight on. "I am disappointed at not being able to live up to the expectations but every cricketer goes through such a time. I am not one to run away from challenges as I am a fighter and I will come back," Afridi said in October.

Despite all the disappointments and frustrations of the past few years, there are still some Pakistanis who believe - or at least hope - he can manage one last stand.

End.