Pakistan’s Afridi sends toe-crushing portent to WC batters

Heavy rain in Brisbane poured cold water on the final batches of warm-up matches ahead of the T20 World Cup but a fit Shaheen Afridi’s trademark arms-aloft celebration lifted spirits in the Pakistan camp, on Wednesday.

The India v New Zealand and South Africa v Bangladesh matches slated for the afternoon, were abandoned without a ball being bowled but 2009 champions Pakistan would be happy even if rain halted their victory charge against Afghanistan earlier in the day.

Afridi, returning from a knee injury, sent an ominous signal to the batters who have converged in Australia bowling four overs at full tilt to claim two wickets for 29 runs.

The left-arm speedster removed both the Afghan openers in his first two overs and the danger he poses was best illustrated when he trapped Rahmanullah Gurbaz lbw with a searing toe-crushing yorker.

Gurbaz was carried off on the back of a teammate and was later sent to the hospital for a scan.

Afridi had bowled two overs in the warm-up match against England but completed his full quota against Afghanistan who managed 154-6.

Afghan captain Mohammad Nabi made 51 not out and Ibrahim Zadran scored 35.

Pakistan captain Babar Azam and his deputy Mohammad Rizwan were looking to get some batting practice but were forced off the ground as the rain stopped play in the third over.

“Good to see that he has not taken long to get back into it. That would have been tough for him, I suppose, being away from the side. But touch wood, it seems like they (medical staff) have done a pretty good job,” Pakistan’s fast bowling coach Shaun Tait said of Afridi, who is back in action after hurting his knee in July during a test match in Sri Lanka.

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