DUBAI // Five months is more like an advertisement break than a retirement, but whatever Shahid Afridi wants to call it, he clearly had no time to gather rust during his brief exile from the international game.
Were it anyone other than Afridi, barely anyone would have noticed he had gone. However, the explosive all-rounder announced his return in typically luminous fashion on Friday night, with a man-of-the-match display in an easy win over Sri Lanka.
By the time Afridi was tossed the ball by Misbah-ul-Haq, his captain, Sri Lanka had already wilted against a Pakistan seam attack who were afforded a new ball at both ends for the first time.
The former captain does everything in a rush, and his three wickets hurried the Sri Lankans to a woeful demise.
"Experience is good to have in all fields of life, and especially in cricket," Misbah said. "In pressure situations it is experience which counts.
"It is a really good sign for me that I have so many experienced guys in the team.
"Younis Khan is playing well and contributing to the team all the time.
"Shahid Afridi has come back in and performed really well for the team. Abdul Razzaq bowled very well. It is good to have these senior players."
Sri Lanka's dire run of form since they reached the World Cup final in India in April shows no sign of abating.
Their supporters were out in force at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium on Friday night, the first time Pakistan's partisan support has been equalled in terms of numbers in the two and a half years since major cricket was first played here. However, most of them, apart from the papare band, had left way before the end of the game.
The tepid form of the Sri Lankan players may come as little surprise, given that they are in the throes of a pay dispute with their board which dates all the way back to the World Cup.
However, Tillakaratne Dilshan refused to use that as an excuse. "The motivation is still there for everyone," the captain said.
"We have prepared really well, but we have to transfer that to the middle. Once we cross the line, we have to give 100 per cent and play our brand of cricket."
Meanwhile, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) delayed the appointment of a new coach and announced Mohsin Khan will continue as interim coach for the tour to Bangladesh.
"Since the board is yet to finalise the appointment of a new head coach, Mohsin Khan will continue as interim coach for the Bangladesh tour," a PCB statement said.
Pakistan are due to tour Bangladesh from November 26 to play two Test matches, three one-day internationals and a Twenty20 match.
The 56-year-old Mohsin is a former Pakistan opening batsman who played in 48 Tests and 75 one-day internationals between 1978 and 1986, scoring 2,709 runs in the five-day game and 1,877 runs in the shorter version.