Sparks flew whenever Gautam Gambhir and Shahid Afridi met on the cricket field in their playing days, but their war of words continues even after their retirements. While Afridi says Gambhir has no great records to speak of but an ‘attitude problem’, Gambhir says that Afridi is a ‘traitor’ who has the mental age of a teenager.
A comparison of their records across their respective careers, as opening batsmen and in India vs Pakistan matches:
Afridi surprised many by retiring from Tests to focus on his white-ball career in 2006, continuing to play international cricket in the shorter formats till 2018. He exploded into the Test arena with a matchwinning 141 vs India in only his second match in 1999, but was unable to replicate that form in later years. He enjoyed his best season in Test cricket in 2005/06 – a run that included two centuries against India, one of them being his career-high score of 156. He returned for one Test in 2010.
Gambhir made a promising start to his Test career in 2004, scoring 96 vs South Africa in his second match. His greatest run, however, came after he made his comeback to the side in 2008. That year, he produced the two highest knocks of his career – 206 vs Australia in Delhi and 179 vs England in Mohali. He was relegated from a regular spot in the Test team in 2013, after which he played 4 Tests.
Afridi’s ODI career spanned many more years than Gambhir’s, also including an evolution from an opening batsman to a pinch-hitting all-rounder much lower down the order. He announced himself on the world stage with his 37-ball century in 1996, a record for the fastest 100 that would stand for the next 18 years. Afridi was one of the most flamboyant openers in ODI cricket in the late 90s and early 2000s, but dropped down the batting order as the frequency of his ducks started to outnumber the big scores. His highest ODI score – 124 vs Bangladesh – came at No. 6.
Gambhir had a better record in the Test format in the earliest days of his career, but improved his white-ball record in subsequent years. He hit a run of consistent form in 2008 – a year in which he scored three centuries. He played a crucial role in the Indian ODI team’s success in the next few years, summed up by his matchwinning knock in the 2011 World Cup final.
In the T20 era, Afridi reinvented himself as a dangerous spin bowler who could swing the bat around, whereas Gambhir remained a specialist opening batsman in this format too. With 98 wickets in the format, Afridi was the highest wicket-taking bowler in the shortest format till he was overtaken by Lasith Malinga in 2019. Gambhir’s batting records are vastly better than Afridi’s in the T20I format. His highest score in T20I was also against Pakistan – the matchwinning 75 in the 2007 T20 World Cup final.
Someone who doesn’t remember his age how will he remember my records!OK @SAfridiOfficial let me remind u one: 2007 T20 WC final, Ind Vs Pak Gambhir 75 off 54 balls Vs Afridi 0 off 1 ball. Most imp: We won the Cup. And yes, I’ve attitude towards liars, traitors & opportunists.
— Gautam Gambhir (@GautamGambhir) April 18, 2020
India vs Pakistan
Despite the disparate directions their respective Test careers took, Afridi enjoys a much better record than Gambhir in India vs Pakistan Test matches. Gambhir’s highest score in this encounter is the 52 he scored on Pakistan’s 2005 tour of India. Afridi, on the other hand, has produced some of his best batting performances in Test cricket against India. Afridi has scored three centuries and has taken 14 wickets in Tests vs India.
There has been one time that Afridi has got Gambhir’s wicket in any format. He bowled him out in the first ODI of Pakistan’s tour of India at Guwahati in 2007. Incidentally, this was exactly one week before the famous face-off between them in Kanpur.
Afridi has 38 wickets in ODIs vs India.
Afridi, despite being one of the best T20 players in the earliest days of the format, does not enjoy a good record in T20Is vs India. Not only do his batting records flatter to deceive, he has also picked up a total of four wickets in this format against India.
Most successful bowlers
The most successful Pakistani bowlers against Gambhir have been Umar Gul (4), Mohammad Sami (4), Iftikhar Anjum (4) and Mohammad Irfan (4).
The most successful Indian bowlers against Afridi have been Javagal Srinath (9), Irfan Pathan (9) and Anil Kumble (7).
As Opening Batsman
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