Afridi blames negative approach for WT20 exit
Shahid Afridi has said that a negative approach from the top-order batsmen resulted in Pakistan's exit from the World T20 after they lost a knock-out league match to West Indies on Tuesday. Pakistan failed to progress to the semi-finals for the first time in the World T20.
After having dominated with the ball for 15 overs of the West Indies innings, Pakistan conceded 82 runs in the last five overs and allowed their opponents to reach 166 for 6. They floundered early in the chase, stumbling to 13 for 4 in the sixth over before being dismissed for 82. This was their second defeat in the group stage, after a loss to India in the opening game.
"It wasn't a big total which couldn't be achieved but the game slipped out of our hands in the first six overs of our batting," Afridi told reporters after returning to Karachi. "It was due to our negative approach in the first six overs, and that's the reason we lost the match.
"If you look at our bowling, we did well in the first 15 overs. Obviously it is T20 and bowlers do get hammered, but it was not such a total which couldn't be achieved. Your attack is your defense; you have to play an attacking game to achieve a positive result."
The loss has put the roles of a few senior players in the spotlight and the Pakistan Cricket Board has also suggested that it would seek accountability. The board was due to offer players an increment of 15-20% in the year's contract, but that decision may be given a second thought.
Afridi, however, defended the squad composition saying the team had the top T20 players of Pakistan.
"The players of current team are top players in Pakistan and they are the best," Afridi said. "What you need is to instill the fighting spirit in them. They performed outstandingly against Australia. Why didn't they continue the same performance?"
Afridi was Pakistan's captain for ODIs and T20s until May 2011 but was removed from the position following differences with the PCB and a few awkward public statements. Misbah-ul-Haq replaced Afridi as captain for the limited-overs formats before stepping down from the T20 captaincy in May 2012.
The loss to Sri Lanka in the Asia Cup final, followed by the exit from the World T20, has also made the side's captaincy a talking point and Afridi, who had earlier publicly backed Misbah and Mohammad Hafeez, said he is open to the idea of leading the team.
"I am ready to accept any challenge for the Pakistan team," he said. "As a player and as a captain I have no issues, but things should improve."
Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo's Pakistan correspondent. He tweets here