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Pakistan’s left-arm pacer Shaheen Shah Afridi has been the talk of the 2021 T20 World Cup, after his stellar show in the opening game against India. He came up with a match-winning performance, taking three top-order Indian wickets. His bowling action has also been getting much limelight as it has been compared to Australian left-arm pacer Mitchell Starc. 

Both are likewise bowlers, but of late, Afridi has been compared with Starc for their similar bowling action, physique, and mode of dismissals.

Similarities

Starc is 6.4 feet tall, while Afridi is 6.6 feet. Thanks to their tall frame, they make for a likewise comparison, with similar bowling action. They rely more on swing than pace and have the ability to bring back the ball into the right-hander. They also generate bounce thanks to their height. Also, the two bowlers boast of unplayable yorkers. 

So, who is a better left-arm T20 bowler?  

Cricwizz takes a look.

First, let’s take a look at the stats of each player in T20s and T20Is.

Overall T20sMatchesWicketsBBI5wAverageEconomyStrike Rate
Shaheen Shah Afridi991356 for 19421.287.7816.4
Mitchell Starc1071524 for 15018.87.315.4
        
T20IsMatchesWicketsBBI5wAverageEconomyStrike Rate
Shaheen Shah Afridi33373 for 20025.77.9619.3
Mitchell Starc44553 for 11021.987.3218

Although there is not much to separate them between their T20Is records, the difference is palpable in Afridi’s T20 cricket records. He has taken as many as four five-wicket hauls in T20 cricket, but Starc is yet to get one. However, Starc has more T20 wickets and a better bowling average in T20s, meaning he has conceded fewer runs per wicket in more matches. 

#Also, Starc has a better economy – fewer runs conceded per over - and better strike rate – number of balls taken per wicket. 

#However, despite that, Afridi stands out for his 4 five-wicket hauls, implying he could have attacked the batsmen more to get those wickets, and conceded runs in the bargain.

Skills

In terms of skills, both the bowlers boast of the abilities to swing the ball into the right-handed batsmen and get the players dismissed LBW or bowled. Also, both had piercing yorkers to rattle the stumps. However, it must be noted that Afridi has had played mostly in the UAE, the new home ground for Pakistan cricket where friendly spin conditions are available. But Starc has had pace bowling friendly conditions of Australia to rely on. In that scenario, Afridi’s achievements stand out. 

Recent performances

Afridi has been in great form recently, taking 15 wickets in 15 T20I matches in this year alone, with 2 three-wicket hauls. Starc has not done badly either, taking 8 wickets in 9 T20I matches. However, Starc has not been able to help Australia rise in T20Is, with the Aussies losing 2 T20Is series 4-1 to West Indies and Bangladesh this year. 

On the other hand, Afridi featured in all the T20I matches this year as Pakistan won both home and away from the T20I series against South Africa, losing only to England 2-1.

Verdict: On current form, Afridi stands out, and is a better reliable T20 bowler than Starc.

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