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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

I'm happy with team combination, says Afridi

Pace sensation Shoaib Akhtar's impending retirement from international cricket won't guarantee him a place in Pakistan's playing XI.

The Rawalpindi Express has been a big performer over the years but skipper Shahid Afridi feels it will be prudent to stick to the winning combination against West Indies. When TOI asked him about the prospect of playing Akhtar in the first quarterfinal, Afridi said: "I told you before that I want to go with the same combination, the winning combination."

Asked whether the plethora of left-handers in the West Indies team would prompt a shift in bowling strategy, Afridi said, "I'm happy with my winning combination and at this stage you cannot really change, especially in a quarterfinal. We have an off-spinner in Mohammad Hafeez, so let's see. We haven't seen the pitch yet." Pakistan are on a high after beating Australia in their last league game and topping the group.

"To win a game against Australia is a big achievement and the dressing room atmosphere is very good. We are all very confident," Afridi said, adding: "Our bowling in this competition has been really amazing. I'm happy to see the way Umar Gul, Abdur Rehman, Mohammad Hafeez andAbdul Razzak have bowled so far. I think Gul struggled with his ankle before but at the moment he is doing a great job with the new ball."

Talking about his own batting form, he said: "I'm not really performing well but I know that with the quarterfinals coming up I'll be more focused.

"I know how important my batting is to my team." Afridi attributed Pakistan's success to a rigorous conditioning camp held before the tournament. "In my 14-year career, this was the best camp ahead of a World Cup. We trained hard in the practice sessions and the coach has done well, especially in the fielding area. Expectations are more now but we're also more confident," he added.
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