I am focused on playing cricket, says Afridi
Dubai: Former Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi is ready to put the controversies surrounding his temporary retirement behind him and is focussed on solely playing the game.
Afridi who has always been in the news announced his `conditional` retirement from international cricket in May, after being stripped of the ODI captaincy, saying he would return only if there were changes in the PCB and the team management.
"Whatever has happened, it is time to play cricket," Afridi told Dubai Sports City. "I don`t want to talk about this anymore. It is all over and I am here to play cricket now."
Afridi has been included in the one-day squad for the five-match series against Sri Lanka in the UAE.
"I missed playing for Pakistan, definitely," Afridi said. "Playing for Pakistan is my first priority. I really missed playing cricket for my country. It was my goal to be back in the team."
Asked whether he was concerned about playing for current captain Misbah-ul-Haq, Afridi said he didn`t expect it to be a problem as he had played under plenty of captains over the course of his career.
"I think I have played under a lot of captains, like around 11 or 12 captains, so it is not really a big issue. The main thing is playing for Pakistan, performing for Pakistan. I think Misbah is doing a great job. He really helped me in the World Cup in 2011. So (now) I am here to help him."
Pakistan beat Sri Lanka 1-0 in the three-Test series and Afridi was quick to praise the captaincy of Misbah, as well as the performance of the team as a unit.
"I think Misbah is doing a great job. The boys have really done well. Younis Khan, Azhar Ali ... it was a team effort."
He was also looking forward to returning to the field and taking on Sri Lanka. "I am very confident. There are a lot of expectations for me back home from the fans, but I am very confident. I think my best performances have come here (in the UAE). Against Sri Lanka, my expectation is to perform even better."
Afridi, who played for Hampshire in the Friends Life T20 in England during his retirement, said he has kept himself fit for international cricket and that Pakistan would be tough to beat in the ODIs, the first of which will be played on November 11 in Dubai.
"In my opinion, the combination that we have is very strong. The team is good. Batting, bowling and our combination is very good."