When you hear of name Afridi, things that first come to your mind are the 37-ball ODI century, the massive sixes, the medium-pace like leg-spinners and the unique pose after taking the wickets. Also, one remembers his numerous retirements and comebacks to international cricket.
However, the Afridi we are talking about has a receding hairline, wears a yellow jersey instead of green and is younger. We are talking about 33-year-old Irfan Afridi, who is helping Uganda reach new heights in the game of cricket. His bowling has helped his adopted homeland get a promotion slot to climb up the World Cricket League ladder.
Irfan Afridi made his debut against Qatar in 2016 and since then has been a proven match-winner for Uganda. Uganda now possesses a talent that can pose a threat to the higher-ranked Associate opposition, since the 2000s when they had the star medium-pace allrounder Kenneth Kamyuka.
"The whole time in Karachi, I didn't play hard ball. Just tape ball, tennis ball," Afridi tells ESPNCricinfo.
He is thankful to his uncle Mushtaq, younger brother of Pakistani superstar Shahid Afridi, for starting his cricket career.
"My uncle wanted to start a business in Uganda so that's why he told me to go to Uganda," Afridi says. "My uncle sent me here for business. We started a business for import and exporting cars. So from there, I started my cricket. I never played hard ball in my life before. I started in Uganda."
A little-known fact is that a pair of Ugandans debuted in the World Cup long before anyone from Ireland or Afghanistan. John Nagenda and Sam Walusimbi opened the bowling and batting respectively for East Africa - a squad comprising players from Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, and Zambia - against New Zealand on the first day of the inaugural tournament at Edgbaston in 1975.
Afridi was invited by former Ugandan pace bowler Asadu Seiga to play a proper leather ball match for his club Tornado CC.
"I played one game for his club. From there I started my career," Afridi says. "When I played the first game, from there they saw me. My friend Asadu told me, 'You can play hard ball. So why are you not trying?' So from there, I started to play. Then I tried to come into the national team.”
Afridi says, “He was the one who brought me in. Every time he was telling me, 'Afridi do that. Push yourself, work hard. You will get a chance. I want to see you in a yellow national-team jersey for Uganda.' So he helped me a lot."
Uganda captain Roger Mukasa says about Afridi's variations “He's been bowling well, and has the ball he pushes with his finger and it's not easy to play it. People have been struggling with it a lot. His performance is so big for the team and he works hard. He's played a big role in the team especially in bowling. He's the guy who gets wickets for us and batting, he can hit the ball far."
At 2017 WCL Division Three in Uganda, he clobbered an unbeaten 108 off 71 balls featuring 10 sixes in a win over Malaysia while his 51 off 17 balls against Vanuatu at Division Four got Uganda another win.
"Every time they push me and they help me, just saying, 'We are with you, we are with you. Push yourself, work hard.' Everyone in the team is with me and they help me a lot," Afridi says.
"They're saying I'm a good bowler and I'm playing for Uganda. I'm in the national team so from there they try to push me more. They help me and push me so that the more that I can do more for my country, for Uganda, I do more. So they help me a lot."
Irfan Afridi also talked about his famous uncle Shahid saying, "I just watch him on TV. The way he's bowling, the way he runs up, the batting style, just I'm following from the TV. Mostly I'm watching his videos on YouTube, so I'm picking from there. Now he knows I'm playing for Uganda. After the 17-ball 51 runs, he heard the news so I got a text message from him saying, 'Very well played.' I'm feeling very happy and appreciate it from my uncle."