Fielding the key for Pakistan - Afridi
Shahid Afridi, the Pakistan captain, has singled out his team's fielding as the major worry ahead of the semi-final against Australia in St Lucia. Pakistan dropped two catches in the defeat to Australia followed by three more against England in the Super Eights which took them to the brink of elimination, before they fought back against South Africa to keep their semi-final hopes alive.
"We are playing well overall but we are missing opportunities by dropping catches. In any format, it is the fielding that wins you the matches," Afridi said. "The opening partnership is very important and so is the fielding. The first six overs while batting as well as bowling are very important."
Afridi acknowledged Australia had improved significantly in the Twenty20 format, but said his team was confident on a track that has been of assistance to spinners and added he also had plans for Australia's prolific opening pair of David Warner and Shane Watson. "We have three regular spinners, and Abdur Rehman is bowling very well," he said. "There are a few areas where Watson and Warner go for the big runs, like midwicket and mid-on, and we've made plans against them as to where to bowl."
When asked whether Hammad Azam, the allrounder who is yet to get an international break, would play against Australia, Afridi said it was unlikely. "Azam is young, and he's played some of the practice matches. He's not very confident now, but we hope that if he tours more he can develop into a mature cricketer."
There has been no international cricket in Pakistan since the Lahore attacks in March last year, and Afridi said victory in the tournament would be a massive boost for fans back home. He also called on India and Sri Lanka to come to Pakistan's support in these trying times, and reciprocate for Pakistan touring their countries when the situation there, as Afridi believed, was "not very good."
"We are here to play good cricket and win this competition because there's no cricket in Pakistan," Afridi said. "The situation in India was not very good around five to six years ago and Pakistan played there as well as in Sri Lanka. Pakistan was the only team to play there. This is how we should continue our cricketing relationship."