Shaheen Afridi now holds the key for Pakistan progressing in the tournament: Ricky Ponting
'He's not back to 100 percent just yet, but he's going along beautifully,' said Ponting.
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After struggling in their initial games at the T20 World Cup 2022, Pakistan managed to put up strong and dominating performances, which helped them make their place in the semi-finals. The Babar Azam-led Pakistani side will be going up against the Kane Williamson-led New Zealand at the Sydney Cricket Ground on November 9, Wednesday, and the tournament will have its first finalist.
Though skipper Babar Azam has failed to impress this time, a few of the players from his side have stood out of the rest. While Mohammad Haris showcased impressive performances as soon as he entered the tournament, Shadab Khan has been brilliant with both the bat and the ball. One player who has shown massive improvement is Pakistan’s ace pacer Shaheen Shah Afridi.
The young pacer has been a proven match-winner, and former Australian cricketer and a legend of the game- Ricky Ponting agrees to the fact. Afridi has been brilliant in Pakistan’s previous two encounters. After picking up three wickets against South Africa, he registered his career-best bowling figures of 4/22 in the game against Bangladesh, which led Pakistan into the semis.
“He might say that he's not back to 100 percent just yet, but from what I've seen it looks like he's going along beautifully and he now holds the key for Pakistan progressing in the tournament,” Ponting told ICC.
He has got better and better and hopefully the best is still to come: Ponting
Afridi marked his return to international cricket after a prolonged injury break, which kept him out of Pakistan’s campaign at the Asia Cup 2022, the T20I series against England, and even the tri-series against New Zealand and Bangladesh. The pacer did not look in great touch in his first couple of games at the ongoing World Cup, but he bounced back stronger and is now a force to reckon with.
Ponting believes that even when Afridi is not at his peak, the top bowler can still have a significant impact on games of extreme importance. While discussing Afridi's return to international cricket, Ponting also singled out batting legend Virat Kohli for special mention, who is currently the leading run-scorer at the marquee event with 246 runs from just five games.
“It's almost a bit like the India scenario with Virat coming into this tournament. Sometimes you just have to stick with them and pick them and let them go because champion players will find a way to get the job done. And as the tournament's gone on he (Afridi) has got better and better and hopefully the best is still to come,” Ponting added.