Seniors must shoulder responsibility: Afridi

Shahid Afridi at a press-conference

Dhaka, Feb 19, 2011

Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi has urged his side’s experienced players to shoulder the burden of responsibility at the World Cup after a disappointing defeat in their final warm-up match.

The dashing batsman and leg-spinner missed Friday’s 67-run defeat by England in Dhaka, but insisted bouncing back was nothing new for his side. “This is not the first time we are saying sorry for our performance,” Afridi told the Press Trust of India (PTI). “All of us as a team now have to perform and give our best in the World Cup.”

“The senior players including myself have a very important role to play in this World Cup. We must show the way to the youngsters who are playing in the tournament for the first time,” added Afridi, one of the stars of Pakistan’s 2009 World Twenty20 triumph in England. Afridi stressed there was no question of Pakistan holding back key players for their tournament opener against World Cup outsiders Kenya in Sri Lanka on Wednesday.

“What is clear is that everyone has to now perform and play responsibly if the team is to do well in this World Cup. There is no time now to experiment. It is a good sign that the players are concentrating hard on the tournament and everyone wants to do well. It is important for us to make an early impact in this competition and get the momentum going,” he added.

The presence of several potential match-winners with both bat and ball in their side, including Afridi, means Pakistan could yet mount a strong challenge for the trophy at this year’s World Cup. “I think Pakistan are really dark horses who can change the game any time. They have the firepower,” said Sri Lanka batsman Thilan Samaraweera of their rivals in Group A, which also includes title-holders Australia, New Zealand, Zimbabwe and Canada.

Pakistan, the 1992 champions, were originally slated as one of the four co-hosts but were stripped of hosting rights after an armed attack on the Sri Lanka team bus in Lahore in March 2009.