Dubai - It is not without a reason that Shahid Afridi is the most loved cricketer in the ongoing Pakistan Super League (PSL).

Though retired from international cricket, the fans want him to carry on playing and produce performances like he has never retired. Karachi teammates feel that his sheer presence is a big boost to everyone. His team coach Mickey Arthur says that he lifts everyone one in the team to give their best and still likes to lead by example. On Saturday, Afridi steered Karachi to a 63-run win over Multan Sultans through a deadly spell of 4-1-18-3. His bowling choked the Multan’s strong batting line up and he walked away with the man of the match award.

Majority of the Pathans, a tribe to which Afridi too belongs, come to the stadium and cheer for him though they mostly support Peshawar Zalmi or Quetta Gladiators teams which are from their region. They want to see Afridi shine for Karachi Kings in all matches. When Afridi missed one match due to a knee injury, there were banners saying “Lala (brother) we miss you.” The fans have a strong belief that Afridi will always contribute, if he fails with the bat, he surely does well with the ball.

Joe Denly, who top scored for Karachi against Multans with a knock of 78, remarked that Afridi is an inspiration. “He (Afridi) is brilliant. He is a superstar all around the world. The way he deals with pressure is fantastic. He is a matchwinner. Any team he plays for will have a chance to do well.” Karachi skipper Imad Wasim, when asked about Afridi’s role, he said: “Shahid can change the game in a span of a few overs. Looking at Afridi, his bowling and fielding, I believe the way he performs and the efforts he put in this age, he is an inspiration for the youngsters.”

Karachi coach Arthur said about Afridi’s presence in the dressing room: “The contribution that Afridi is putting in the dressing room is immense. He advises Imad a great deal and has been excellent in his role. His bowling is great and I feel he will play an innings which will help us win a match.”

Afridi is so sporting that he will never take credit for the victory. When asked about his matchwinning performance on Saturday night he said: “Conditions suited the spinners. I’ll give credit to Babar (Azam) and Joe Denly, because of whose efforts we were able to put up this total. We went as per plan and in T20 and I try to keep things simple, but I do variations to avoid becoming predictable. “When you win against good teams, the confidence is high. But I strongly feel fielding is what will win us the tournament.”