New Delhi: Pakistan cricket may be in turmoil due to unending controversies but it would not affect the morale of the players and the team would still be one of the favourites in the upcoming World Cup, skipper Shahid Afridi said on Thursday.
Pakistan cricket has been rocked by a series of controversies, the latest being the spot-fixing allegations against seven top players.
Three players have been suspended by the ICC and four more are under the scanner but Afridi said the team is determined to do well in the World Cup.
"I strongly believe that Pakistan will be among the top contenders. There have been many controversies recently but we will leave them behind to concentrate on World Cup. We have good batting line up and talented bowlers. All of them are confident of good show," the flamboyant all-rounder said.
Afridi counted India as one of the strong contenders in the World Cup, to be held in sub-continent from February 19 next year.
"I think India, Pakistan, Australia and Sri Lanka will be in the semi-finals. India and Sri Lanka will face additional pressure as they will playing on home turf," Afridi said.
He also praised the current Indian team under Mahendra Singh Dhoni.
"India is continuously playing well since Dhoni has taken over. The confidence level of the team is amazing and I think it will be an exciting contest," said the veteran, who has scored 6371 runs in 303 ODIs for Pakistan.
Afridi said Sachin Tendulkar would be the batsman to watch in the elite ICC event.
"Sachin is an extra-ordinary player. His hunger for runs is growing by his age. He is playing since 20 years and it is his last World Cup. Naturally he wants to make it a memorable one. All teams need to be extra cautious against him and we are no exception. We will draw a specific strategy for Sachin and some other Indian batsmen," He said.
Afridi also rued the fact they have lost the opportunity to play before the home fans in the prestigious tournament.
"This is a huge loss for Pakistan Cricket. Foreign teams are not playing here and it has definitely affected us. We cannot do anything in this matter. Thank god, we have enough international exposure prior to World Cup."
After playing against South Africa in Dubai and Abu Dhabi Pakistan team is going to tour New Zealand from December 26 to February 5. They will play two Tests, three Twenty20s and six ODIs.
When asked how he is going to motivate his team, the Peshawar Pathan said, "Pakistan has suffered a lot. Flood, terrorism and the spot-fixing scandal in Cricket. Our Hockey team has given us a reason to smile after winning the Asiad gold and now we want to complete the success saga. Insha Allah we will win the World Cup for our countrymen."
"People of India and Pakistan are crazy about Cricket. It is like a religion for them. Sometimes it is hard to fulfill all their expectations but we are desperate to win this time," he added.
Pakistan cricket has been hit by a series of problems from doping to ball-tampering but is facing the most severe test after spot-fixing charges against several players.
According to latest revelation by UK based bookie Mazhar Majeed, apart from suspended trio of Mohammad Asif, Mohammad Aamer and Salman Butt, four more Pakistani players are involve in the spot-fixing.
Before that wicket-keeper Zulqarnain Haider went fled from Dubai to London and retired from international cricket after reportedly receiving threats from unidentified people.