Shaheen Afridi optimistic about Pak’s prospects in T20 World Cup

Karachi, (UNI) Pakistani fast bowler Shaheen Afridi has expressed confidence in Pakistan’s chances of securing their second Men’s T20 World Cup title. In a conversation on the PCB Podcast, Afridi reflected on the team’s near successes in the 2021 and 2022 tournaments and emphasised that the team is on the brink of achieving glory.

Afridi likened Pakistan’s journey to that of the Lahore Qalandars in the Pakistan Super League (PSL), who, after years of hard work and early setbacks, won back-to-back tournaments. “It’s not possible that you put in the hard yards, and you don’t get the results,” Afridi remarked, highlighting the importance of persistence and dedication.

The fast bowler was a pivotal figure in the previous T20 World Cups. In 2021, Afridi’s crucial 19th over in the semifinal against Australia saw him concede runs to Matthew Wade, leading to Pakistan’s exit.

The following year, during the final against England, Afridi sustained a knee injury, rendering him unable to complete his spell. This left Pakistan a bowler short, ultimately aiding England’s victory.

Reflecting on these setbacks, Afridi said, “You’re disheartened if you get so close and still lose the World Cup. Both events were painful. We were hurt after the first loss in 2021 and in the second, I couldn’t help the side because I was injured.”

Despite these challenges, Afridi remains positive about the future. He stressed the importance of unity within the team and following a collective process to achieve their goal. He echoed the sentiments of newly appointed white-ball coach Gary Kirsten, who emphasised the importance of playing for the team rather than individual accolades. “Gary Kirsten told us, don’t play for the name on the back of your jersey but for the badge in front of your shirt. And that stayed with me,” Afridi shared.

Afridi also reminisced about Pakistan’s historic T20 World Cup win against India in 2021, where his early breakthroughs were crucial. He credited former Pakistani cricketer Shahid Afridi for his advice prior to the match, which helped him perform without pressure. “I called up Lala (Shahid Afridi) as his performance has always been the best against India. He advised me not to take any pressure, and to give my best,” Afridi recalled.

Looking ahead, Afridi is focused on maintaining an aggressive approach with the new ball to unsettle opposition top orders early in the innings. He believes this strategy is vital for setting the tone and easing the pressure on the rest of the bowling attack.

Pakistan and India will face off again in the 2024 T20 World Cup on June 9 in New York, a much-anticipated rematch following India’s victory in their 2022 encounter. Afridi and the Pakistani team are gearing up to turn their fortunes around and aim for World Cup success.

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