Afridi targets World Cup momentum
There might not be much relevance to a Twenty20 contest right now, but Shahid Afridi said a good performance in the two-match series against New Zealand would build into Pakistan's preparations for the 50-over World Cup.
Pakistan have had a tough time in one-day cricket over the past 12 months. They lost to Sri Lanka in the Asia Cup final in February, and conceded a three-match series to the same opposition in the UAE. Recently, they were beaten by a young Australia side 3-0. But an upswing in their Test form has put the team in a good frame of mind.
"I think the boys are feeling very confident ahead of the series and my side is a very well-balanced one," Afridi said. "You can't compare the T20s with the ODI cricket. It's a totally different format. But I think a victory, and to have a winning combination is very important. You feel more confident after a victory. Each victory and each game before the World Cup is important to us."
Afridi also voiced confidence in his bowling resources. Umar Gul, who has recovered from knee injury and appears fit for international cricket after going through six first-class matches in the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy. Wahab Riaz is also making a comeback after hurting his knee during the second ODI against Australia in October. Since then, he's played two four-day games during which he bowled 68 overs.
"Both Umar and Wahab have performed very well for Pakistan in the past," Afridi said. "They are both looking very fit and they seem to be in good form. I am very happy to see them in the squad."
With Mohammad Hafeez under scrutiny for his action and Saeed Ajmal - the top wicket-taker in T20s - suspended from bowling, Afridi sees an opportunity for fringe players to shine.
"Our spinners have done very well despite Ajmal's absence and played a very important role in our wins. I believe that Pakistan has got good bowling strength. We have bowlers sitting who are waiting for their chance to get into the team. It's not as if we are struggling to find another spinner. I think we have always been blessed with good bowling combinations."