Senior players hold the key in Inzamam's absence: Afridi
by AFP

Player:Younis Khan, Inzamam-ul-Haq, Shahid Afridi
Event:ICC Champions Trophy 2006/07

DateLine: 12th October 2006


Pakistani all-rounder Shahid Afridi said Thursday that the recent turmoil at home would not affect the team's campaign in the Champions Trophy tournament in India.


"The team have settled down after what happened back at home and we all are eager to perform under new captain Younis Khan," said Afridi, an aggressive batsman and an effective leg-spinner.


Pakistani cricket has recently been in news for all the wrong reasons.


Younis, named captain in place of suspended Inzamam-ul-Haq, stepped down a few days before the team's departure for India. He was later reinstated.


The Pakistan Cricket Board also appointed Nasim Ashraf as its new chairman in place of Shaharyar Khan, who stepped down in the debacle.


"In Inzamam's absence all the senior players including me have to shoulder the responsibility and rally around Younis," said Afridi, who has so far scored 4,860 runs and grabbed 192 wickets in one-day internationals.


Afridi said he was looking forward to playing on Indian pitches where he had done well both as a batsman and bowler.


"I'd love to open an innings on sub-continent pitches, but I think it will not be easy now as I have been playing down the order for quite some time," said Afridi, 26.


He smashed a 45-ball century in India last year, joint third-fastest with West Indies skipper Brian Lara in one-day internationals. He also holds the world record of a 37-ball hundred, against Sri Lanka at Nairobi in 1996.


Afridi has scored four hundreds and 26 half-centuries in 230 matches.


"I have adjusted myself according to the team's requirements. I don't know what number I will bat (in this tournament), but my job is to play for the team and contribute to its success," said Afridi.


"Batting has always been a plus point but I think I can also provide crucial breakthrough with my bowling."


Afridi said it was difficult to pick champions in the tournament because any team could win.


"It is a very big tournament for every team because whoever win it, it will be a big plus for them ahead of next year's World Cup (in the West Indies)," he said.


"You can't single out one team because any team can win. It's not a game of individuals because you can win matches only if the whole team perform."


Pakistan open their campaign here on October 17 against the winners of the Sri Lanka v West Indies match.

(Article: Copyright © 2006 AFP)


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