Pakistan's Twenty20 captain Shahid Afridi has urged his senior team-mates to inspire the younger players through example in the forthcoming ICC World Twenty20 in the West Indies. Afridi was appointed captain after Mohammad Yousuf was banned by the PCB and later announced his retirement from international cricket.
"I believe that the main responsibility will be on the senior players. They are ones who have enough experience of playing in top-level events like the World Cup," Afridi told the News. "Our senior players like Abdul Razzaq, Misbah-ul-Haq, Mohammad Asif, Umar Gul and Kamran Akmal will have to come out with their best in the West Indies. They are the ones who can inspire the young boys in our team to shine in the tournament."
Pakistan are the defending champions and Afridi said a second title triumph would be the best way to erase the bad memories of the recent past. Pakistan experienced one of their worst away tours, losing all three Tests, five ODIs and the one-off Twenty20 in Australia. The PCB came down heavily on the players it believed were responsible for their poor performance, handing out life bans to Yousuf and Younis Khan and one-year bans to Shoaib Malik and Naved-ul-Hasan. Afridi and the Akmal brothers were fined for various misdemeanours and put on six-month probations.
"We all know that Pakistan needs good news on the cricket field. If we win the World Cup again, we will be able to make millions of our countrymen happy," he said. "That is why I'm urging my team-mates to give their 100% effort in the training camp and later in the World Cup. I need them to fight like a unit because that's the only way to win a major event like the World Cup."
Despite the shoddy results in Australia, where they failed to capitalize on winning positions, Afridi backed his team to bounce back in the Caribbean. "I'm not making any promises which is why I won't say that we would go out their and lift the World Cup," he said. "But what I want to make crystal clear is that we have to play for the country and if we do that then anything is possible.
He was also pleased with the two latest appointments to the coaching staff, Waqar Younis as coach and Ijaz Ahmed as his assistant. "Both Waqar and Ijaz are really good coaches. They know how to get the best out of the players. They are making us go that extra mile in the camp and that's a very positive change."
Pakistan are placed in Group A with Bangladesh and Australia. They begin their campaign against Bangladesh on May 1 in St Lucia.