Two senior players coming together for a good cause is a rare moment in Pakistan cricket. A team where the trust levels among senior players is rather low, Shahid Afridi and Misbah-ul-Haq produced a match-winning stand to guide Pakistan to a whopping 126-run win in the first ODI against the West Indies in Guyana on Sunday.
Afridi has always been outspoken and always taken pride in his abilities. He was hurt after the Pakistan selectors dropped him for the ICC Champions Trophy. Afridi openly expressed his unhappiness over selection policies, even questioning the presence of non-performers in the team. (Stats: How Afridi scripted Pakistan's biggest-ever win vs WI)
Afridi made the cut for the tour of the West Indies where Pakistan are playing five one-dayers and a couple of T20 internationals. On Sunday, the mercurial all-rounder translated words into deeds and then shared the spotlight with his captain.
Afridi (76 off 55 balls) scored his highest score against the West Indies and his 120-run stand with Misbah helped Pakistan script their biggest victories in terms of runs against the West Indies in the Caribbean in ODIs.
The sixth-wicket partnership was commendable. In recent times, Pakistan have seldom recovered from batting collapses and on a difficult wicket at Guyana, Pakistan were struggling at 47 for five when Afridi and Misbah took charge.
"Whenever I got the ball in my zone I went for it," Afridi said. "I knew Misbah was at the other end. I knew he would stay till the end, it gave me the confidence to go after it," added Afridi whose post-match reactions will heal lot of tension inside the Pakistan dressing room.
Misbah, whose cool mind helps him run a team that disintegrates easily at times, complimented Afridi for the heroic innings.
"It was a much-needed performance," Misbah said. "Especially the way Shahid Afridi played. It is one of the more difficult pitches I have played on. It was seaming, it was stopping, it was really difficult to middle the ball. I thought if we could reach 200, we could fight. And Shahid helped me. On a pitch that it was difficult to middle the balls Shahid was hitting fours and sixes," said Misbah.
At 34, Afridi is probably making the last of his many comebacks. The temperamental former skipper remains a crowd-puller and insists that he has a lot left for Pakistan cricket.
"I try hard and I back myself and I want to thank people back home," Afridi said. "It is not time for me to just survive in the team, but to give a lot to the team. It was not easy to survive so I tried to stay positive," Afridi said.