Afridi wants Bangladesh treated like Aussies
Gros Islet: Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi has told his reigning champions to take Bangladesh as seriously as if they were Australia when they begin the defence of their World Twenty20 title.
Pakistan face their Asian rivals at the Beausejour ground here tomorrow before returning to the same venue 24 hours later to wrap up their Group A campaign against Australia.
With the top two in each of the four groups going through to the second round, both Pakistan and Australia are expected to brush aside Bangladesh on their way into the Super Eights.
However, Afridi told the International Cricket Council (ICC) podcast on Thursday: “Playing in this cricket, anything can happen. It’s about what happens on the day.
“I want to see the same body language whether we are playing Bangladesh or Australia.”
All-rounder Afridi, a hard-hitting batsman and leg-spinner, is also Pakistan’s leading player at this tournament.
He was thrust into the leadership after a series of suspensions imposed following a winless tour of Australia that have cost Pakistan the services of former captains Mohammad Yousuf, Younus Khan, as well as Shoaib Malik and Rana Naved.
And it was in Australia where Afridi, after extraordinarily chewing on a white cricket ball during a one-day international in Perth, received a two-match Twenty20 ban for ball tampering.
However, the discipline of captaincy may be having an effect.
“I think as the defending champion, there is some pressure on me,” Afridi said. “There is extra responsibility on me as captain to set me an example.
“But we’ve got a good team and I’m, quite happy. This is the right time for us to play some good cricket. That’s what I am expecting from the guys.”
As if the loss of so many players through suspension was not bad enough, Pakistan will be without Umar Gul at the World Twenty20 after the fast bowler suffered a shoulder injury at a training camp in Lahore earlier this month.
Gul is the most successful bowler in Twenty20 internationals with 43 wickets in 26 matches and also returned record match figures at this level with an astonishing five wickets for six runs against New Zealand in the World Twenty20 in England last year.
“Umar Gul, over the last two years, has been playing very well in Twenty20,” Afridi said, having previously explained: “He is an expert of reverse swing.
“He could have been lethal on the slow pitches in the West Indies but all the other available players are also equally good and eager to perform in the mega event.”