Sharjah (UAE), Feb 20:
Legendary Pakistan all-rounder Shahid Afridi announced his retirement from international cricket, ending an illustrious and sometimes controversial 21-year career.
The 36-year-old star had already quit Tests in 2010 and ODI cricket after the 2015 World Cup but still skippered the Pakistan Twenty20 team at the 2016 world championships in India.
He stepped down as captain after the tournament although he retained slender hopes of continuing his career in the sport’s shortest format as a player.
“I have said goodbye to international cricket,” said Afridi after smashing a 28-ball 54 in a Pakistan Super League match for Peshawar Zalmi in Sharjah.
“I am playing for my fans and will continue to play this league for another two years but it’s goodbye from international cricket.
“Now my foundation is important for me. I have played with seriousness and in a professional way for my country.”
Nicknamed ‘Boom Boom’, Afridi had been a fan favourite since he burst onto the scene in 1996, striking a 37-ball one-day century against Sri Lanka in only his second match to set a world record that was unbeaten for 18 years.
He became known as a leg-spin bowling all-rounder in the second half of his career and was instrumental in Pakistan’s early successes in Twenty20, including their 2009 victory.
After stopping short of retirement following Pakistan’s first round exit at the 2016 World Twenty20, Afridi had wanted to play a farewell Twenty20 match against West Indies in United Arab Emirates in September.
But selectors, with one eye on the future, did not pick him in the squad.
His blistering breakthrough century in Nairobi in 1996 was only surpassed by New Zealand’s Corey Anderson’s 36-ball hundred against West Indies at Queenstown in 2014.
South African AB de Villiers then bettered the record further with a 31-ball century, also against the West Indies, at Johannesburg in 2015.
Afridi’s rapid-fire century in Kenya made him an instant hit with the crowds who expected fireworks every time he strolled to the crease.(Agencies)