Karachi: Shahid Afridi said leading the side in the upcoming One-day series against England would be the biggest challenge of his career in the wake of spot-fixing allegations against the three of their top players.
Afridi, who has played 27 Tests, 296 one-dayers and 35 T20 matches, also said that Pakistan was feeling the heat after the allegations surfaced.
"It has not been easy for the players. But I think the team management took the right decision to release these players even before they were suspended.
"Because not only were Salman (Butt), Aamir and Asif under pressure but the rest of the team was also feeling the heat of the allegations," he said.
Afridi said the players were making an effort to avoid discussing the issue in training or in the dressing room and just focus on the cricket.
"The players are avoiding talking about it because they know the best thing they can do right now is to focus on the coming matches and try to do well in them," he told Geo Super channel.
"For me personally it is a big challenge to lead the team in the existing conditions but I have tried my best to relax the players and insist they just concentrate on cricket itself."
The Pakistan Cricket Board announced two youngsters, batsman Asad Shafiq and left-arm pace bowler Muhammad Irfan as replacements for the one-day series following the suspension of the tainted trio.
Afridi said he was consulted in the finalisation of the replacements.
"I know they have lot of talent and it is a challenge for me to try to get this team to fight hard. Obviously we will miss the three but we have good back up talent and we have to manage with it in the coming matches," he said.
Afridi said that he hoped that the three players would be eventually cleared of any wrong doing.
"I feel sad at the current situation and I hope it turns out well for Pakistan cricket. But for the time being we just need to show the world we are a top cricket nation," he said.