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Thursday, February 17, 2011


Former Pakistan batsman Zaheer Abbas says that the country's success in the 2011 World Cup will depend on skipper Shahid Afridi. The mega event, which is being jointly hosted by IndiaSri Lanka and Bangladesh, is set to begin on Saturday, 19th February.
Abbas, who had been a staunch critic of Afridi, didn't want him to be retained as the skipper for the World Cup. Instead the former legend favoured middle order batsman Misbah-ul-Haq as the new captain. However, after a long delay, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) finally decided to retain Afridi.
Speaking to newsmen Abbas said, “He (Afridi) asked for the captaincy and got it. Now the onus is on him to show maturity and, for once, plan innings as per match situation. A captain has to lead from the front, and our batting is inexperienced compared to most teams."
Abbas reiterated that the wickets in the World Cup are better suited for batsmen and Afridi will need to focus on his batting in order to make sure that his team reaches the final. He pointed out the fact the Pakistan’s batting was not in good shape and senior players would have to play with some responsibility.
He said that Afridi had never been a technical batsman and always relied on his hitting instincts rather than playing sensibly. He said, “He's a hitter. Some have opined that if he's pushed up the order, with the added responsibility of captaincy, Afridi would do better. However, I'm averse to this idea. He can't control his natural instincts.
He added, "He has never been able to do that in his career. Moreover, Afridi was a failure with the bat in all his three previous World Cup appearances.”
He insisted that Afridi was still inconsistent with the bat and was unreliable even as a hitter. He preferred all-rounder Abdul Razzaq as a better hitter who could perform at crucial junctures in a match. He however, hoped that Afridi would realise that there was a bigger responsibility on him now that he is leading the national side in cricket’s biggest tournament.
The Pakistani veteran praised openers Mohammad Hafeez and Ahmed Shehzad for their commendable batting during the New Zealand tour. He reckoned Shehzad would prove his mettle during the World Cup and said that Hafeez would also be impressive if he retains his form with the bat.
He had words of praise for lower middle order batsman Umar Akmal. The youngster has been struggling with his form lately but Zaheer believes that the young lad has the capability of returning to his prolific scoring form during the World Cup.
Pakistan open their World Cup campaign against Kenya on 23rd February at the Mahinda Rajapaksha International Cricket Stadium in Sooriyawewa, Sri Lanka. 
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