Before the T20 World Cup Final, Shaheen Afridi picks ice cream, and Rauf’s guard goes shopping



Friday is Melbourne’s day after a week of work and heading to nearby malls, where they eat joints, bars and theaters. Close to the Harbor Esplanade tram stop is the DFO (Direct Factory Outlet) in the South Wharf area where most will go looking for discounts and bargain stealing. On typical days, like most of the city’s shopping outlets, DFO closes firmly by 6pm. But on Fridays, it remains open until 9pm local time. A quick stroll from the tram stop, across the Webb Bridge and there you have it – plenty of brands tempting you to lighten the load on your wallet.

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Carry the weight of a million hopes for another T20 Globalism Trophy title, Pakistan cricketers Harris Rauf and Shaheen Afridi were in a mood to keep pockets light as they made their way to the busy shopping plaza. It was a quick stop at a sports first brand where the fans, mostly Indians, committed a lot of pictures and were happy to have a conversation. Wearing a black jacket and bottoms, tucked neatly into one ear, Shaheen patiently heard what the Indians had to say.

On the other hand, Raouf wore a fancy jacket with training shorts and finished the look with a heavy hat.

The duo patiently wandered before making their way to another story, which seemed deserted and allowed them to shop in peace. Rauf was the aggressive shopper as Shaheen was happy to turn back on the passersby and committed a few excited Indians to selfies.

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“Ari Shaheen Bhai, Aap Ho? (Is that you Shaheen’s brother), “A fan could not hold back his excitement as he took out the phone to take a selfie. Shaheen politely smiled and stood up before returning to his cup of ice cream. Meanwhile, Raouf began experimenting with slides and jackets.

Paaji eh chak lo, trophi naal changi photo aani hai (my brother picked up this jacket, would be good for a photo with the World Cup), I told a guard as he checked to fit the jacket. He smiled.

“Sunday jitna hai tussi… (You have to win on Sunday),” I encouraged them before he answered, “Ki karna hai, twada badla lena eh? (You mean revenge on your behalf).” We had a good laugh before his friend’s keeper agreed to the white sliders.

A landslide victory after a miracle qualified for the semi-finals

Pakistan’s qualification to the World Cup semi-finals was nothing short of a miracle and I was eager to bring him along with Rauf, as Shaheen continued to corner the corner.

I jokingly said, “Paaji waise kamaal karta tusi (You’ve done well)”. “Asi ki keta, sap on keta hai (it was all by the grace of God),” he said, pointing to the sky.

Sahin came back from a knee injury for the World Cup and certainly injured his right tendon ahead of the title match against England. He had numbers 2/24 against New Zealand in the semi-finals and would be Pakistan’s main weapon against England in the MCG.

“All the best to the finalist, Jeet Ki Anna (don’t win),” I wish him well before he makes my way toward the exit. The reply came before the ice cream regained its attention: “God willing, Puri Kuchish Kareng (we’ll do our best)”.

(The writer is in Australia at the invitation of Visiting Victoria)

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