Team’s batting woes and his own poor batting form. It seems like a mountain on his shoulders. He is hurt and wounded but expect a backlash from Shahid Afridi on Friday.
The explosive batsman and captain of Pakistan’s Twenty20 and ODI sides reckoned that his team would serve up a better show in the five-match one-day international series against South Africa which begins at the Shaikh Zayed International Cricket Stadium on Friday.
Pakistan lost both the Twenty20 Internationals and the batting was a big letdown. Pakistan stuttered to 119 in the first T20 before coming up with 120 in the second game. The bowlers fared a lot better. If only there were enough runs to play with. Afridi’s own form was not lost on him and he was especially hard on himself.
“Pressure is not there but every game has its own pressure. It is obvious that when things are not going well pressure is bound to come. I have to focus on my performance now. I have been worrying a lot about others’ performance and probably I’m losing mine. I will certainly make a comeback and I will put my cricketing abilities to good use when Pakistan needs it the most.”
“I know how important my performance is for the team and if I had performed well in these two matches, I’m sure we could have easily won the games.”
The first of the five ODIs of the Bank Al Falah presents Cool & Cool Cup series gets going with the first ODI today. The second ODI is on Sunday, again in Abu Dhabi, before the action shifts to Dubai for the remaining three games.
Afridi said the return of batting mainstay Younus Khan will add solidity to an otherwise frail looking batting order.
“We have players like Younus Khan who has a great temperament. Asad Shafiq is another player with good temperament. There are some good players missing like Salman Butt, Kamran Akmal, Mohammed Amir and Mohammed Asif. So, you can understand those four main players in the playing XI and who have performed well for the team earlier are missing from the squad.
So, the new players who have come into the squad will take some time to settle down. They are talented youngsters but will surely cement their places in the team,” said Afridi.
Afridi said that the squad was selected keeping the ODIs in mind and felt that they would put in a much better show in the ODIs.
“When the team was announced it was a perfect one for the ODIs. I thought that the selection committee has announced the best team. And you will see that we will get the best possible result in the ODIs, even far better than what we performed in the Twenty20,” he said.
Meanwhile T20 captain Johan Botha hands the reins to ODI captain Graeme Smith. Smith said: “South Africa are keen on the way the team develops before the World Cup and the process is going along very well.
Rusty Theron, who was only part of the T20 squad, has been added to the ODI squad as cover. Theron, who made his debut in the home series against Zimbabwe, returned with a career-best 4-27 in the second T20 on Wednesday night. Theron had picked 11 wickets in the three ODIs against Zimbabwe
All-rounder Jacques Kallis and Dale Steyn are recovering from injuries and Theron’s inclusion will add cover and bolster their fast bowling options. Kallis and Steyn didn’t feature in the T20 segment and while Steyn looks a doubtful starter, South Africa are hoping Kallis will figure in the first ODI.