Just into his second ODI, Shahid Afridi did the unthinkable when he scored a century of 37-ball against Sri Lanka in Nairobi. It was once the fastest ODI century of all time, a record that stood for 18 years before New Zealand all-rounder Corey Anderson bettered it by a ball against West Indies in 2014.
However, it turns out that the bat Afridi plundered 104 off 40 balls with was not his. In fact, the piece of willow Afridi used was gifted to his teammate Waqar Younis by none other than Sachin Tendulkar.
Afridi's former Pakistan teammate Azhar Mahmood narrated the incident that he claims made Afridi a proper batsman from being 'a bowler who could hit'. In his debut, Afridi did not get a chance to bat because he was supposed to come in at No. 6. But having seen the exploits of Sri Lanka's Sanath Jayasuriya and Romesh Kaluwitharana prompted the team management to promote Afridi up the order.
"Shahid Afridi had debuted in Nairobi in 1996 after the Sahara Cup, where I made my debut. So Mushi [Mushtaq Ahmed] got injured in that series and Shahid Afridi was touring with the Pakistan A team to West Indies and he replaced Mushi in that tournament," Mahmood said on 'The Greatest Rivalry' podcast.
"In those days, the two Sri Lankan openers, Jayasuriya and wicketkeeper Kaluwitharana used to attack upfront. So, we thought we need someone who can bat at No.3. Afridi and I – Wasim said you guys go and try to slog [in the nets]. I was slogging sensibly and Afridi went against the spinners, murdering everyone in the nets.
Afridi walked out to bat at No. 3 when Pakistan had lost opener Salim Elahi to reach 60/1. Afridi took center stage and belted 11 sixes and six fours en route to scoring the then-fastest century with, as it turns out, with a bat that Tendulkar gifted. Afridi's stocks rose with that inning and he became one of Pakistan's biggest players in ODIs, eventually becoming captain of the side and leading it to the semi-final of the 2011 World Cup.
"Next day, we got the game against Sri Lanka and they said he [Afridi] is batting at number three. I think Waqar [Younis] got a bat from Sachin [Tendulkar], he used the great Sachin's bat and managed to get a hundred and after that, he became a batsman. Mainly he was a bowler who can hit the ball, but in the end, he had a wonderful career," Mahmood said.
"Especially that World Cup, 2011, he led the side very well, he was in the best of his form, he was bowling really well. He learned a delivery from the great Abdul Qadir – the ball that drifts in and hits your pads. So that was a great World Cup [for him] and he was batting great as well. Overall, it was a great World Cup for Pakistan, unfortunately, we lost to India but Shahid Afridi was a great asset for Pakistan."