Dubai: On 4th October 1996, a hurricane by the name of Shahid Khan Afridi announced his arrival in the world of cricket. Pakistan was playing Sri Lanka in Nairobi. Afridi hit a whirlwind 100 off just 37 balls at the tender age of 16 years. He was playing just his second ODI for Pakistan against Sri Lanka.
Such was the impact of that hundred - it was the fastest at that time, before Corey Anderson broke it - that Shahid Afridi became an overnight sensation in Pakistan.
He went on to prove that the Nairobi hundred was not a flash in the pan by scoring another quick-fire hundred off just 43 balls against India in Kanpur on a difficult pitch.
Afridi’s fearless style of batting became such a hit that people around the world would just come to the stadium to watch their hero hitting massive sixes against hapless rivals.
Afridi was also the player of the tournament in the inaugural edition of T20 World cup where Pakistan had to be content with being runners up to India. Later, Afridi led Pakistan to win the title in two years with a match-winning all round performance in both the semifinals and finals.
Shahid Afridi made his presence felt in the Test format also. His match-winning hundreds against India are testament to his versatility, but unfortunately he retired from Test cricket early to focus on his white ball career.
However, great expectations sometimes meet with disappointment. There were many occasions when he failed to live up to the anticipation of the fans to deliver with his explosive batting style. He would often fail to control his urge to slog every ball that came his way.
But that is what made Shahid Afridi an enigma. He was capable of lifting the mood of his fans sky-high with his fiery hitting. However, on many occasions, this style of batting became his undoing.
I have known Shahid Afridi for ten years now and when he celebrates his 41st birthday, I can only say this: cricket never has and never will see another one like him.