Afridi warns World Cup teams not to underestimate “hungry” Pak in tournament

Saturday, February 12, 2011

DHAKA - Pakistan’s limited-overs captain Shahid Afridi has warned his World Cup rivals not to underestimate his country, saying that his team had turned over a new leaf following the spot-fixing scandal.

“We all know how important the World Cup is for us and for our country. The message for other teams is that no one should underestimate us,” SAMAA TV quoted Afridi, as telling reporters in Dhaka on Saturday.

The flamboyant all-rounder said that the Pakistan team was “focused and united” under his leadership.

“They feel hungry to win a big event and want to play good cricket,” he said, adding that the recent wins in New Zealand had bolstered the team’s morale.

He admitted that Pakistan had been blown away by the spot-fixing scandal, which saw former Test captain Salman Butt and two leading pacers, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Aamer, banned for at least five years for their involvement in corruption in the game.

“I think we’re really going through a very tough situation,” said Afridi, adding, “But I am very happy because we are trying to rebuild the team and keep the morale high. I am confident the team is in very good shape now.”

He paid tribute to team manager Intikhab Alam and coach Waqar Yunus for keeping the squad in good spirits amid the controversy.

“They are really doing a very good job,” he said. “They have assured the atmosphere in the dressing room is healthy. We are trying to keep the boys together as a unit.”

Afridi also expressed his satisfaction over his team for the mega-event, saying: “We have a very good bunch of youngsters and some experienced players.”

“It is good to see Kamran Akmal back in the team. Misbah-ul Haq is in good form and Younis Khan is also batting well,” the captain pointed out

“I am also very happy with our bowling. We have two genuine spinners and some good fast bowlers, especially Shoaib Akhtar,” he added.

Afridi said that fans would see a vastly improved Pakistan in the World Cup, and added: “Inshallah (God willing), we will achieve our goal.”

Pakistan was initially supposed to co-host the tournament with India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, but was stripped of its hosting rights following a terror attack on the visiting Sri Lankan team in March 2009.

Afridi expressed the hope that international cricket would return to his country soon. “We are desperate to host the best teams. I am sure that will happen in the near future,” he said. (ANI)

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