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Sunday, February 20, 2011

Tougher the circumstances,sweeter the success: Afridi

An all-rounder capable of making a big difference, Shahid Afridi, Pakistan’s captain in limited overs cricket, is clear about his priorities.
The 30-year-old, who (believe it or not) is in his 15th year at the international level, spoke to The Telegraphat the Sheraton on Friday, before Pakistan’s practice match against England.
Being pressed for time (“itne official commitments hote hain”), Afridi couldn’t spare more than 15 minutes.
Following are excerpts
Thoughts as Pakistan’s first match in the World Cup, against Kenya (on February 23), gets closer
We’re about to start a difficult journey... Safar mushkil rahe ga, but the tougher the circumstances, the sweeter the success... Only good players are able to complete a difficult journey and I’m hopeful that everybody in my team is going to rise to the occasion. It’s in tough situations that the quality of a player comes out.
If he’s happy with the way his team is shaping up
Definitely... At one time, I did worry that it would be tough putting together a good unit, but I’m happy... I have a mix of seniors and players without much experience aur motivationmein kami nahin hai.
The responsibility on his shoulders
Bilkul hai, but I’m ready for the challenge of captaining Pakistan in a World Cup... It’s nice that I have (former captain) Younis Khan around, as also (Test captain) Misbah-ul Haq... I can go to them for guidance... Then, having played under so many captains, I’ve picked up a few things.
Priority as captain
Team ko ek saath rakhna... There’s nothing bigger than that... Whatever the situation, I’ve got to carry the team with me.
Whether he spoke to idol Imran Khan before leaving Pakistan
Imran’s advice...
That I must stay positive, lead from the front and ensure that it’s a happy dressing room... I value whatever Imranbhai says.
If, after the scandals, it’s time for Pakistan to prove a point
I won’t talk about proving a point or not, but all of us know the importance of this World Cup... Victory will raise our stock in the fraternity and help bring international cricket back to Pakistan.
The scandals
I’m looking ahead.
Not being affected by pressure
Look, pressure is there... Every day has its own challenges and brings a different kind of pressure... The more you think about it, the greater it will be. So, I don’t worry.
If the 1992 World Cup win, under Imran, is the biggest inspiration
Of course... We didn’t have a great tournament in the early stages, but played superbly in the key matches... That’s a lesson... We’ve got to raise our game when it matters the most... Our defeat in the 1999 final (to Australia) is also a lesson — no point playing very well in the lead-up to the most important match and failing there.
Difference between a World Cup and other tournaments
As the name signifies, it’s the World Cup... The difference really is in the expectations-driven pressure.
His approach
That I’m learning... Har din kuch na kuch seekhne ko mil sakta hai.
Message for his players
That crores of people are looking at you, that their hopes are on you. We just can’t disappoint our awaam.
Finally, the Indo-Pak rivalry
Do I need to say it’s the biggest?
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