KARACHI: Pakistan’s limited-overs captain Shahid Afridi has defended his leadership and has said that the team developed the much-needed fighting spirit during his tenure as captain.
The experienced all-rounder has been facing heavy criticism from former cricketers following poor results throughout the year under Afridi’s leadership. Pakistan faltered in the defence of their World Twenty20 crown before failing to reach the final of the Asia Cup. Although they won the Twenty20 series against Australia in England, the team lost against England, South Africa and New Zealand in the following series.
The results, complemented by Afridi’s below-par performance, raised doubts on his appointment as captain for the World Cup that starts next month. The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) Chairman Ijaz Butt hinted a change in captaincy and said the selection of captain for the World Cup is yet to be confirmed.
However, Afridi, despite the odds stacked up against him, remains optimistic and satisfied with his captaincy.
“There is no doubt that the team lost more than it won but the players developed a fighting spirit under my captaincy and that is an important thing,” the all-rounder said during a reception given in his honour yesterday.
He believed that the team was well prepared and the way players are showing passion, Pakistan had a good chance of shining in the World Cup.
“We have a good chance in the World Cup for which I am pretty hopeful. I’m 90 to 95 per cent satisfied with the players’ performance and that is a good sign.”
Selection committee to meet today
Meanwhile, the national selection committee would meet today in Lahore to finalise the One-Day International (ODI) squad for the six-match series against New Zealand.
“We would be meeting on Wednesday to discuss the squad,” chief selector Mohsin Khan told The Express Tribune before adding that the committee is yet to determine when the team would be announced.
According to a PCB official, the selectors’ meeting is of huge importance as the squad that would be announced for New Zealand series would be a virtual choice of selectors for the final World Cup team.
“The squad for the ODI series would resemble one for the World Cup. This squad would show who is going to play in the tournament,” said the official adding there would hardly be any changes in the team for the World Cup, according to the strategy prepared by the selection committee. “Only a player who flops miserably in the ODIs against New Zealand would be dropped otherwise there would hardly be any changes in team.”
He said the selectors have also decided to select tried and tested players for the squad.
“There are slim chances of a new face getting a chance for the important series because the selectors, at this point in time, would hardly venture for an experiment.”
The official added that a discussion on the change in captaincy remains one of the main agendas of the selection committee meeting.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 12th, 2011.