Just how do you slot someone such as Shahid Afridi in within the confines of a straightforward definition?

Not many days have passed since a fresh round of epitaphs was written for Afridi the batsman. The criticism wasn’t unfounded for he had mustered a mere 131 runs in his last 10 innings.

And then came those match-winning knocks against India and Bangladesh.

When asked at the end of the Bangladesh game to name his batting coach, Afridi replied: “No one.”

As unpredictable as an errant time-bomb, the man affectionately called ‘Lala’ has exploded at a most opportune moment.

Even his impassive captain, Misbah-ul-Haq, would find it hard to suppress his delight. “The biggest plus for us is the way he’s playing, not only for the (Asia Cup) final here, but also for the T20 World Cup,” said Misbah.

Misbah provided a glimpse of how the team generally arrived at a decision on where Afridi would bat. “We try to calculate a lot of things, like what the opposition is bowling like and which bowlers’ overs are remaining. I think when there is one clear message he can go in and play his game. The kind of form he is in, Pakistan can use him anywhere,” he said.

There was a question on what instruction the team’s batting coach and chief cricket consultant, Zaheer Abbas, had given Afridi when he went out to bat against Bangladesh.

“The message given to Shahid Afridi was that he should give himself at least 20-25 balls. We know that when he plays 20-25 balls, he can score 50,” said Misbah.

On whether Afridi was one of the best ODI players in the world, he said the 25-ball 59 provided “very big evidence” of that.

“When he’s performing well, especially with the bat, there’s no better proof than the kind of innings he has played in these last two games,” Misbah said.

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