Karachi:Shahid Afridi's critics believe that the senior Pakistani all-rounder has lost his lightning reflexes that once made him the most dreaded pinch-hitter in the game. His fans and supporters are of the view that the player, who was dropped for Pakistan's dead rubber against Bangladesh here on Friday due to poor form, is just passing through a lean patch and will soon return to form.
But ask Afridi and he will tell you a different story. The big-hitting Afridi believes that he is under a spell of black magic! Sources close to Afridi told IANS that the player is "convinced that his enemies have carried out a spell of black magic on him which the player believes has affected his performance on the field".
The sources said that friends and relatives of Afridi have been giving the embattled player some pep talk in a bid to convince him to give up that belief. But some of his other trusted friends have been continously telling him that he will have to seek "expert help" from religious men to get rid of the spell.
Afridi is based in Karachi which is the most modern Pakistani city but hails from the Khyber Agency, a conservative area in Northern Pakistan. He belongs to the Afridi clan, a fierce and backward tribe from the country's north-western tribal areas. One of his friends told this correspondent that Afridi is himself a very conservative man and has become a staunch Muslim in recent times.
Afridi is going through a lean patch, especially with the bat in recent times. Sources said that Afridi is of the view that he has lost control of his own mind because of the spell, something which he says was evident from Pakistan's Asia Cup game against Sri Lanka on Sunday. Afridi got out for a first ball duck in that game and later told his friends that he went in he wanted to begin with a single, but when the ball was bowled he couldn't resist going after it. "It has to be magic," a source quoted Afridi as saying.
National selectors had been under pressure to drop Afridi and finally did that on Friday and skipper Shoaib Malik returned to the line-up at his expense.