Pakistan ex-cricket captain Shahid Afridi contracts virus

Karachi (AFP)

Pakistan’s well-loved former cricket captain Shahid Afridi on Saturday said he had tested positive for coronavirus, as the pandemic accelerates across Pakistan.

The 40-year-old all-rounder, known for towering sixes and distinctive celebrations after taking a wicket as a bowler, revealed his illness on Twitter.

Shahid Afridi distributed food  during Pakistan's coronavirus lock down has caught the virus
Shahid Afridi distributed food during Pakistan’s coronavirus lock down has caught the virus Banaras KHAN AFP/File

“I’ve been feeling unwell since Thursday; my body had been aching badly. I’ve been tested and unfortunately I’m covid positive,” Afridi said.

“Need prayers for a speedy recovery, Inshallah (God willing),” he added.

His career, spanning1996 to 2018, took off when he smashed a 37-ball hundred in only his second one-day international, against Sri Lanka in Nairobi in 1996.

The record was later broken by New Zealand’s Corey Anderson (36 ball hundred in 2014) and AB de Villiers (31 balls in 2015).

Afridi stills holds the record for hitting the most sixes in one day internationals, striking 351 in 398 matches.

Since retiring from international cricket in 2018, Afridi has been active in charity work through his own foundation.

He has been providing food donations to people in remote areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan provinces hit by the impact of the virus and the lockdown.

“I am happy to serve my people but I am doing all precautions with mask and disinfection so its a risk worth taking,” he told AFP last week.

“These are very hard times on humanity across the world…”

Pakistan Cricket Board and fellow former players were quick to offer their support to Afridi.

“Brother your services to our homeland especially in the last few months are forever etched in our hearts. We all know the fighter that you are, sending all the prayers possible, wish you a speedy recovery and good health,” tweeted long time team-mate Shoaib Malik.

Another former team-mate Mohammad Hafeez described Afridi as a “fighter by nature” in a message of support.

Fans have also rallied round the cricketer on social media.

“You have faced many challenges in cricket and we have seen you come out on top and this virus is no different, smash it out of the park & get well soon,” tweeted one fan.

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