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ODI GOAT: Afridi v Saqlain

Two modern Pakistan greats clash in our round of 64 - who gets your vote?

The #ODIGOAT is cricket.com.au's knockout competition to determine the greatest ODI player of all time. We've selected our top 64 ODI players and now we're asking YOU to do the hard work – that is, narrow it down to one. Set up in much the same way as a tennis tournament, each day you'll see head-to-head match-ups, with the winner of those progressing to the next round to square off with their next challenger. From 64, we'll go to 32, to 16, 8, 4 and ultimately our final. So cast your VOTE and decide just who is the greatest ODI player in history!

SAQLAIN MUSHTAQ (PAKISTAN)

The numbers: Matches: 169 | Wickets: 288 | Average: 21.78 | SR: 30.4 | Economy: 4.29 | BB: 5-20| 5fa's: 6

WATCH: Tendulkar undone by Saqlain

Why he makes the list: A cunning off-spinner who perfected the 'doosra', Saqlain Mushtaq hit ODI cricket like a hurricane. Less than two years after his debut in September 1995, Saqlain had 100 ODI wickets to his name, reaching the landmark in only 53 matches to set a new world record. By the end of 1998, he had captured 176 in 88 matches at 18.7 runs each. His slow, stop-start bowling action was like a snake coiling up before spitting venom at the striking batsman. Surrounded by the supreme pace pair of Wasim and Waqar, Saqlain was the perfect foil for the legendary speedsters. He claimed 17 wickets in the 1999 World Cup as Pakistan steamrolled though the tournament only to stumble at the final hurdle. Four years later he was out of the game, bowing out against South Africa as Pakistan's leading ODI spinner.

Performance we loved: New Zealand were cruising to victory in December 1996 in Gujranwala. Chasing 229 from 46 overs, the Black Caps were 4-185 with Stephen Fleming and Nathan Astle at the crease. Enter Saqlain. The mysterious offie removed Fleming and Dipak Patel in consecutive deliveries – both stumped – before dismissing the final three batsmen to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. Pakistan the victors by 11 runs.

SHAHID AFRIDI (PAKISTAN)

The numbers: Matches: 398 | Wickets: 395 | Average: 34.51 | SR: 44.7 | Economy: 4.62 | BB: 7-12| 5fa's: 9

Runs: 8,064 | Average: 23.57 | SR: 117 | 100s: 6 | HS: 124

Shahid Afridi // Getty
A riddle wrapped in an enigma: Afridi // Getty Images
 
 

Why he makes the list: Shahid Afridi was a riddle wrapped in an enigma, one that we're not even sure he knows the answer to. At his very best, there was no cleaner hitter, no more dangerous leg-spinner and no player as entertaining. In just his second ODI match, and his first innings, Afridi scored the fastest-ever ODI century – a 37-ball kamikaze show that stunned world champions Sri Lanka. Nicknamed 'Boom Boom' for his pyrotechnics with the bat, Afridi's batting would be overshadowed by his abilities with the ball, evolving into a reliable leg-spinner, one who possessed more variations than an over would allow. His career is littered with incredible solo efforts; Lahore '97, Toronto '98, Lahore '00, Kanpur '05, Durban '07, Dubai '09, Providence '12, just to name a few. But controversy courted Afridi throughout his enigmatic career, which in many respects made him that much more intriguing.

Performance we loved: We could go for the 37-ball ton against SL, or the 42-ball blitzkrieg against India in 2005, but it's not every day a bowler takes seven wickets in a one-day match. With his roller coaster career into its 17th year, Afridi took a remarkable 7-12 against the West Indies in Providence 2012. He took the last seven wickets of the innings, removing names like Lendl Simmons, Dwayne Bravo, Marlon Samuels and Kieron Pollard, levelling the Windies for 98 to win by 126 runs. Oh, and we almost forgot, he hit five sixes in a 55-ball 76 in the first innings, just cause he could.

#ODIGOAT First Round: Tendulkar v Sharma

#ODIGOAT First Round: Akram v Starc

#ODIGOAT First Round: Garner v Donald

#ODIGOAT First Round: Richards v de Silva

#ODIGOAT First Round: Azharuddin v Miandad

#ODIGOAT First Round: Dev v Vettori

#ODIGOAT First Round: Lloyd v Border

#ODIGOAT First Round: Jones v Clarke

#ODIGOAT First Round: Waqar v Johnson

#ODIGOAT First Round: Warne v Kumble

#ODIGOAT First Round: Hooper v S. Waugh

#ODIGOAT First Round: Imran v Hadlee

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#ODIGOAT First Round: M. Waugh v Jayasuriya

#ODIGOAT First Round: De Villiers v Boucher

#ODIGOAT First Round: Lara v Amla

#ODIGOAT First Round: Gilchrist v McCullum

#ODIGOAT First Round: Gayle v Haynes

#ODIGOAT First Round: McGrath v Pollock

#ODIGOAT First Round: Anwar v Ganguly

#ODIGOAT First Round: Sehwag v Greenidge

#ODIGOAT First Round: Ponting v Gibbs

#ODIGOAT First Round: Dhoni v Sangakkara

#ODIGOAT First Round: Inzamam v Kallis

#ODIGOAT First Round: Murali v Hogg

#ODIGOAT First Round: Bond v Ambrose

#ODIGOAT First Round: Malinga v Vaas

#ODIGOAT First Round: Kohli v Pietersen

#ODIGOAT First Round: Symonds v Klusener

CATO Sri Lanka

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