Before the T20 World Cup Final, Shaheen Afridi and Haris Rauf enjoy a day out in Melbourne.

Before the T20 World Cup Final, Shaheen Afridi and Haris Rauf enjoy a day out in Melbourne.

Melburnians wake up on Friday after a week of work and head to nearby shopping malls, restaurants, pubs, and theatres. The DFO (Direct Factory Outlet) in the South Wharf region is located near tram station Harbour Esplanade and is where most people go to look for discounts and steal deals. On regular days, DFO, like most shopping malls in the city, closes at 6 p.m. On Fridays, however, it remains open until 9 p.m. local time. A short walk from the tram station, across the Webb Bridge, and you’ll find a plethora of brands enticing you to lighten your wallet’s load.

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Pakistan cricketers Haris Rauf and Shaheen Afridi were certainly in the mood to keep their pockets light as they made their way to the busy shopping arena, carrying the weight of a million hopes for another T20 World Cup title. It was a quick stop at a sports brand first, where they obliged fans, mostly Indians, with a lot of pictures and were eager to talk. Shaheen sat patiently in a sweater and black bottoms, airpods neatly tucked into one ear, listening to what the Indians had to say. Rauf, on the other hand, was dressed in a luxurious sweater with training shorts and a tucker cap.

The pair walked around patiently before making their way to another story, which had a deserted appearance and allowed them to shop in peace. Rauf was the aggressive shopper, while Shaheen was content to wave back to passers-by and even obliged a few eager Indians with selfies.

“Arey Shaheen, aap ho?” (Is that you, Shaheen brother?)” a fan couldn’t contain his excitement as he took out his phone for a selfie. Shaheen smiled and posed politely before returning to his cup of ice cream. Meanwhile, Rauf experimented with slides and blazers.

“Paaji eh chak lo, trophy naal changi photo aani hai,” I told Haris as he examined the blazer’s fit. He laughed.

“Sunday jitna hai tussi… (you must win on Sunday),” I encouraged them before he replied, “ki karna hai, twada badla lena eh?” (You intend to exact vengeance on your behalf)”. We had a good laugh before Haris approved the white sliders for his friend.

Thrilling victory following miraculous semi-final qualification

Pakistan’s qualification for the World Cup semi-finals was nothing short of miraculous, and I couldn’t wait to tell Rauf about it as Shaheen continued to occupy the corner.

“Paaji waise kamaal karta tusi (you did fantastic),” I remarked. “Asi ki kitta, sab unne kitta hai (All thanks to God’s grace),” he said, pointing to the heavens.

Shaheen returned from knee surgery for the World Cup and has certainly struck a chord ahead of the title match against England. He bowled 2/24 against New Zealand in the semi-finals and will be Pakistan’s main weapon against England at the MCG.

“All the best for the final, jit ke aana (do win),” I say as I make my way to the exit. “Inshallah puri koshish karenge (will do our best),” he replied before returning his attention to the ice cream.

The author is in Australia at Visit Victoria’s invitation.



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