Not Sehwag, but Shahid Afridi changed the mindset of opening in Test cricket: Wasim Akram

Shahid Afridi didn't play many Tests matches as his illustrious career had only 29 Tests to boast about.

Shahid Afridi, Wasim Akram and Virender Sehwag
Shahid Afridi, Wasim Akram and Virender Sehwag. (Photo Source: Twitter)

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Virender Sehwag was someone bowlers used to feel intimidated to bowl to. Simply because of his attacking instinct from the very beginning of a match. Even in Tests, Sehwag had a strike around 83 while opening the batting. Even in today’s world, no batsman or opener has a similar strike rate while opening the batting.

Many cricketers and experts feel that Sehwag revolutionised the way opening batting handled in Tests. But former Pakistan pacer Wasim Akram feels otherwise.

During a chat show on Youtube where Wasim Akram was interviewing Shahid Afridi, former Pakistan captain Akram revealed that he feels it was Afridi, who changed opening batting in Tests. According to Akram, before Sehwag, it was Shahid Afridi who changed the way openers batted in Tests. Indeed, the Delhi batsman started opening his Tests in 2002, but Afridi has already opened the innings for Pakistan for the first time in 1998.

Virender Sehwag came later, says Wasim Akram

“In Test cricket, Sehwag came later but in 1999-2000 Shahid Afridi changed the mindset of opening in Test cricket. Even if I was the bowler I would know that I can get him out but also know that he can hit me for boundaries. He used to hit lose deliveries for sixes at will,” the veteran fast-bowler said.

During Pakistan’s tour of India in early 1999, Shahid Afridi played what could be credited as his best Test innings. In the Chennai Test, Afridi scored 141 runs from 191 balls in the second innings. Pakistan’s total in that innings was just 286, Afridi scoring half the runs.

Pakistan went on to win the historic encounter by just 12 runs, on the back of Afridi’s exploits with the bat. “What a knock it was on that Chennai track. Afridi used to dance down the track and hit Kumble and Joshi for sixes,” Akram said while recalling that Test match.

Wasim Akram was the captain of the national team back then. He recalled how selectors were not picking Afridi ahead of that tour. However, Akram decided to talk to the former captain Imran Khan, who suggested Akram to go with Afridi.

“I called Imran Khan before the tour selection. I told him ‘skipper I want to take Shahid Afridi on tour but a few selectors were against it. He told me ‘You should definitely take him, he will win a 1-2 Test matches and make him open the batting.’ I generally discussed a lot with Imran, sometimes before the tour, sometimes during the tour and his suggestions always came in handy,” Akram said.

Shahid Afridi didn’t play many Tests matches as his illustrious career had only 29 Tests to boast about. The all-rounder did 398 ODIs and 99 T20Is for Pakistan.