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T20 World Cup: Harbhajan believes Afridi's performance against Ireland will 'give him confidence'

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New Delhi, June 17 (IANS) Former India cricketer Harbhajan Singh praised Pakistan pacer Shaheen Shah Afridi for bowling a match-winning spell against Ireland and helping the team to end their T2O World Cup campaign with a three-wicket victory in a low-scoring thriller.

The game, held on Sunday at Lauderhill, Florida, saw Pakistan restrict Ireland to a modest 106/9 after opting to bowl first. Afridi’s exceptional performance, where he claimed three wickets for 22 runs in his four overs, was pivotal in containing the Irish batters.

Harbhajan was effusive in his praise for Afridi while reviewing the game on Star Sports.

"Shaheen Afridi bowled well. He came in proper form slightly late in this tournament. Their tournament is over but this match would give him confidence for sure. A big player feels bad when he doesn't perform as per expectations," he said.

Afridi began his spell with a lethal delivery that bowled Andy Balbirnie in the game's first over. He followed this up by removing Lorcan Tucker, caught behind, and trapping Harry Tector in front of the wickets in his second over, effectively dismantling Ireland's top order.

"There was a lot of help from the pitch but despite that, you have to pitch the ball at the right spot, from where the ball goes and hits the stumps or the pads. He generally bowls those deliveries. He bowled a very good ball (to Andy Balbirnie), which was far from the bat and it got a chance to swing," he explained.

Afridi’s strategy of swinging the ball both ways kept the Irish batters on their toes, leading to their downfall. Harbhajan termed Afridi’s swinging skills double-edged sword, deceiving batters with movement in both directions before delivering a devastating yorker.

"After that, he took the ball away. He was like a sword that cuts from both sides - the first ball came in and the second ball went away."

The former India spinner emphasised that Afridi’s performance would boost his confidence, a crucial factor for any top player. "However, he will feel better today as he did a job where both he and his team will feel nice. As he said, their focus will be on the future. They will reflect on whatever has happened, rectify their mistakes and move forward," Harbhajan stated.

Babar Azam and his team chased down the target with three wickets in hand and seven deliveries to spare, ending their T20 World Cup journey on a high note.

--IANS

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