Afridi and Ajmals Stand-off in T20
Pakistan's star all-rounder Shahid Afridi and spin wizard Saeed Ajmal are set to face off in the T20 Blast, the Friday evening clash between Northants Steelbacks and Worcestershire Rapids receiving top-billing in Northampton which has a large South Asian community.
Match starts: (18:30 local | 22:30 PST)
Afridi, who made his Northants debut against Warwickshire in England's domestic T20 tournament, scoring 16 off 11 balls and returning figures of 4-29-0 with the ball, is, characteristically, looking to light up the shores in his brief stint in the league while Ajmal will be looking at the opportunity to find his old self after appearing mediocre with the new a remodelled action.
The time at Northants will be Afridi's fourth stint with a county side having previously played for Kent, Hampshire and Leicestershire. But this time the 35-year-old maverick is on a bigger mission as well.
“It's important for me to interact with the South Asian community to talk about the importance of cricket,” Afridi said in an interview with BBC.
“I am eager to put together a cricket camp while I am here for two or three days to give something back,” he said.
“Kids nowadays are perhaps not going the right way in this country and it's important to try to reach out to the kids because you find if they are a fan of yours, they may listen to you a bit more than their parents.”
Afridi, who is the captain of Pakistan's T20 side after having retired from ODIs after the 2015 World Cup, said he was also taking the opportunity in Northants to relax before flying off to take part in the Caribbean Premier League where he will represent St Kitts and Nevis Patriots.
“There are times when you need some privacy and go out to a restaurant with your family. So its good that not too many people know me here,” Afridi chuckled.
Ajmal, meanwhile, is on a different mission and will be taking not only the game against his teammate seriously but will treat the entire period in England as an opportunity to win back his place in the Pakistan side.
“I don't want to play cricket on the basis of reputation,” Ajmal said.
“I want to play with my head held high and with the same confidence level I had in the past. Things are not going well presently, but you will see in coming days that I have improved. If I am benched, that is the plan and the players playing in place of me are the best and performing well.”
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