United we will rule, vows Afridi

afridiAll-rounder Shahid Afridi believes Pakistan are united under skipper Inzamam-ul-Haq and should go all the way in the World Cup even as injuries continue to plague them in the lead up to the quadrennial spectacle in the Caribbean, writes Khalid Hussain.

“Some people claim that we would not be able to do well in the World Cup and compare this team with the side that lost early in the 2003 tournament. I must say that there is a big difference in the team we have now and then the one that competed in the previous World Cup. That one lacked unity, while this one has been glued together with the spirit to win the title,” said Afridi on the eve of Pakistan’s departure for the West Indies.

Pakistan went into the 2003 World Cup in Southern Africa as one of the favourites but crashed to an embarrassing first round exit.

Pakistan are dogged by fitness issues with experienced all-rounder Abdul Razzaq out of the World Cup because of a knee injury while a question mark hangs over the availability of key pacers Shoaib Akhtar and Mohammad Asif.

Afridi agreed that Pakistan would miss Razzaq but hoped that Shoaib and Asif would be fit in time for the opening World Cup game on March 13. “Shoaib and Asif are our important players and then the entire team is praying for their recovery,” he said.

Afridi, 26, said that he is determined to find his form with the bat in the World Cup saying that he is willing to open the innings if required. “I am desperate to find some runs and am ready to bat at any position for my team,” he said.

Afridi said that he did reasonably well on the last tour of the West Indies saying that the conditions there should suit his game.

Fellow all-rounder Shoaib Malik said that he and teammates are looking forward to give their 110 percent in the World Cup. “It is a challenging assignment for all of us and we are ready to give the best,” said Malik.

Leg-spinner Danish Kaneria, who made a stunning return to the one-day squad after being snubbed initially, said that he is itching to bowl in the World Cup.

“New wickets have been prepared for the World Cup and you cannot predict as to how they would behave,” said Kaneria. “I am relishing the challenge to bowl on them and am confident of doing well there,” added Kaneria who is seen by some pundits as one of Pakistan’s most potent bowling weapons. Others, however, fear that he is not well-equipped for the one-day game.

Kaneria said that in spite of uncertainty over the availability of Shoaib and Asif, the mood in Pakistan’s camp is upbeat.

“Our spirits are high, something which I believe is very important because you have to remain positive to be able to win a tough event like the World Cup,” he said.

Source:The News

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