20-Jun-2009 10:28:00 GMT
ICC Twenty20 World Cup, 2009
Afridi Wants to Make it Third Time Lucky
London: Shahid Afridi is desperate not to end up on the losing side for the third time in a row when he turns out for Pakistan in the World Twenty20 final at Lord's on Sunday.
Afridi still remembers the the hurt he felt as a teenager 10 years ago when his team was mauled by Steve Waugh's all-conquering Australia in the World Cup final at the same venue in 1999.
The pain returned two years ago when India won the inaugural World Twenty20 title with a five-run win over Pakistan the final in Johannesburg, even though Afridi was named the most valuable player of the tournament.
The powerful all-rounder, 29, says he will not tolerate another failure.
"We have to win this one," said Afridi after leading Pakistan into the final with an attacking half-century and two top-order wickets in one over in the semi-final against South Africa at Trent Bridge on Thursday.
"I want to do it on my own if I could. This is our best chance to make up for the disappointment of the past," he said.
Afridi's 34-ball 51 against South Africa was his first half-century in 29 innings for Pakistan in any form of cricket. The one prior to that was 17 innings ago against Sri Lanka in Abu Dhabi in 2007.
It's to the credit of Pakistani selectors and the team management that they chose to persist with the mercurial cricketer, and Afridi repaid that faith on Thursday.
"I am grateful to the captain (Younus Khan) for backing me all the way," he said.
"He told me before the game against South Africa that I should play my own game and not worry about anything.
"He also told me that I was a senior player and needed to take responsibility. I had not done well as a batsman for a long time, but I knew the team was relying on me to deliver.
"I could not let them down. I don't want to let them down again."
Afridi is the prodigal cricketer who does the unexpected and is never to be underestimated.
He made his international debut as a leg-spinner in a One-day match against Kenya at Nairobi in 1996 and ended up scoring the fastest ever century off 37 balls in that game.
Afridi has a strike-rate of 110.91 from 276 One-dayers and is a good enough Test batsman to average 37.40 in 26 matches with a best of 156 against India.
Bowling leg-spin, Afridi has claimed 47 Test and 252 One-day wickets, making him one of the most seasoned all-rounders in the game.
Afridi's value, however, lies in turning the game around -- and winning it -- on his own and Pakistan will be hoping he does it again on Sunday.
Neither Pakistan or he can afford to be unlucky a third time.