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Friday, September 16, 2011

Afridi will play in Lahore despite dengue fears

Despite concerns shown by Karachi’s regional association, former Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi has confirmed his participation in the season-opening Twenty20 event in Lahore despite the spread of dengue in the city.

The all-rounder, who will lead Karachi Dolphins, is looking ahead to the event where some participating teams have expressed concerns over the deadly virus that has claimed over 25 lives in Lahore.

The Karachi City Cricket Association (KCCA) called for a venue-shift, arguing that players were concerned about their safety. The Afghanistan Cricket Board, which will be sending a team from the country, also voiced their concern over the state of the city. The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), however, rejected all concerns, saying precautionary measures have been taken and the event will go as planned from September 25.

Afridi, though, is keen to return to action.

“I will take part in the tournament,” the experienced all-rounder confirmed to The Express Tribune. “I am focusing on a good show for my team in order to achieve best results. I want to play cricket as much as I can to avoid rustiness. It will be a good tournament and I am not going to miss this opportunity.”

Fans can expect fireworks

The all-rounder has not played international cricket since the tour of West Indies where he developed differences with the coach and his subsequent outburst forced the board to strip him of captaincy.

Afridi retired from international cricket following that. He did represent Hampshire in the recently-concluded Friends Life T20 and hit an explosive knock of 80 off just 42 balls in his last innings at the event. Afridi said he was aiming for more such innings in the upcoming tournament.

“I am focusing on my batting also apart from bowling,” he said. “I will try to go fully prepared to shine as an all-rounder. My last innings has given me confidence and hopefully I will carry the form in the tournament.”

Return to international cricket?

However, Afridi refused an immediate return to international cricket.

“I just want to play cricket at the moment and will return when the time comes,” he said.

Afridi to play for All Stars in Hong Kong Sixes

Former Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi will feature in the Hong Kong Cricket Sixes at the Kowloon Cricket Club from October 28.

Afridi, who announced a conditional retirement from international cricket, will play for the All Stars team which also includes Sri Lanka’s Sanath Jayasuriya, South African opener Herschelle Gibbs, Pakistan all-rounder Abdul Razzaq, Australia fast-bowler Shaun Tait and Ryan ten Doeschate of the Netherlands.

“We are thrilled to have both Jayasuriya and Afridi playing on the same team,” Hong Kong Cricket Association President Shahazada Saleem told “They are outstanding cricketers who can demolish any bowling attack and are more than capable bowlers themselves. The fans are in for a treat.”

The All Stars have been drawn with Sri Lanka, New Zealand and Scotland in Group A while defending champions Australia are placed in Group B with England, Bangladesh and Ireland. The third group comprises last year’s losing finalists Pakistan, South Africa, India and Hong Kong.

“We have got a good blend of players from all around the world and I expect the All Stars to be one of the favourites to win the tournament,” said Saleem.

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