Trying to stay “aloof” from the scathing backlash that he has faced in real and virtual world following the World T20 loss to India, Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi on Monday said that he is not bothered by the criticism as he knows what is best from the team. (Full Coverage|| Fixtures||Photos)
From pundits, media to common Pakistani fan, everyone has been critical of Afridi and his team, be it on television, newspapers or in social media. “I think even when the tournament had not started, media were saying things. But in reality, neither do I check Twitter, Facebook nor do I check what media is reporting. I have kept myself to one side (aloof). I know what will be their response (back home),” Afridi told mediapersons ahead of team’s important group league clash against New Zealand.
“But, I will say it again, whatever is happening there (in Pakistan), let it happen. I know what I and my team have to do here. That is the most important thing for me. Rest of the things can be taken care of later as to who is saying what. For us, main thing is performance and we will have to show it,” the mercurial Pakistan captain added.
Afridi showed his pragmatic side when he said that this game can take as much as it gives. He was speaking in reference to former skipper Younis Khan, who was in a similar situation in 2009 before Pakistan went on to win that edition of ICC World T20 in England.
“I think this cricket has not made just Younis Khan, but many big cricketers cry. I have seen many crying and leaving cricket. I thank Allah that I have been playing for Pakistan for a long time, this is a big honour for me, I had not even thought so. Whatever be the result, I will be satisfied when I give my 100 per cent on the ground, whatever be result later, I have no issue, but I and my boys they have to give their 100 per cent. I dont think even our people (back home) should have any issue. Yes, the mistakes that we have made, we will have to stop those. But if one starts to create panic situation in the team, then it becomes difficult to sort out things”.
When asked why it tends to happen both in India and Pakistan as well that if one team wins, victory is celebrated with great show and when there is a defeat, all hell breaks loose, a sarcastic Afridi shot back:”Look, you asked the question and even gave the reply as well.”
“It happens, those who love you they express anger, but that contains love also. It happens in our sub-continent, may be because there is so much craze about cricket. But I think, we have to take these things in our stride in a positive way and perform well, because these very people also love us so much. So, it doesn’t matter if they say something,” he said.
Afridi admitted that they made mistakes in the last game against India at Kolkata, pointing out at the same time the innings played by Virat Kohli made a big difference.
“Look, the team that wins makes minimum mistakes and the one which loses, that one makes more mistakes than the other team,” he said, when asked about decision to go with four pacers and not using spinners.
“I admit that we made mistakes, be it connected to reading the pitch or even losing the toss. Had we won, we would have also chosen to bowl as conditions were overcast and the pitch had been covered for entire day. But I won’t give any excuse.”
“Virat Kohli made the big difference. In Asia Cup also, he singlehandedly won the match for his team, here (in Kolkata) also because of his scintillating knock, India won,” Afridi said.
Adding further, Afridi said, “So, in this format, the team which makes minimum mistakes will win. In last match, we made more mistakes, but that is history now. India played well and they won. For me, tomorrow’s match is very important. I and my team are focused on tomorrow’s game.”
When asked that the Pakistan team in the past also faced situations like this and emerged stronger, what would be his message to the team at this stage, he replied,”I think who is saying what at this stage, that is their own thing (about angry reactions). As a captain, I am concerned about my team and how I perform. I have hopes from my own self and very high hopes from my team members. The talent we possess and the skills we have, we will try to use that to the fullest.”
“No doubt, in tomorrow’s match (against New Zealand), the opposition is strong and they have been playing well. But we have hunger to win,” Afridi said.
Pakistan will be desperately looking to ensure the painful defeat to India becomes a distant past when they run into an in-form New Zealand here on Tuesday with an aim to bounce back into the World Twenty20 and pacify their bitter fans back home.
About Tuesday’s tie, he said,”We have to stick to basics. Sometimes, you expect that miracles will happen but it does not work out that way. We will have to make less mistakes, as I said earlier. If one repeats mistakes, then it becomes difficult. We are not making big mistakes, but we will have to minimise even the smaller ones we are committing.”
He also said batting and bowling of his team was good at the moment. “Effort has to be made to minimise mistakes,” he said.