Shahid Afridi's brilliant performance due to his renewed focus: Waqar Younis

Shahid Afridi scored a 65-ball 75 before taking five wickets to guide Pakistan to ODI series win against Sri Lanka AFP

Karachi: Nov 21, 2011

Former Pakistan captain Waqar Younis feels Shahid Afridi’s superb performance in the ongoing ODI series against Sri Lanka is a result of the renewed focus that the all-rounder has shown since coming out of a temporary retirement.

Afridi turned in a fantastic all-round show in the fourth one-dayer in Sharjah on Sunday scoring 75 runs under pressure and then taking five wickets to give his team an unexpected victory.

The differences between Waqar, when he was coach of the national team, and Afridi, when he was captain of the one-day side, are well documented and continued even after both had exited the team.

Just after Afridi was recalled to the national team for the one-day series in UAE, Waqar had advised the allrounder to shut his mouth and focus on cricket instead of criticising everyone and seeking cheap publicity in the media.

Afridi silenced his critics with his brilliant allround show which Waqar said was the result of his newfound focus on his performances.

“He has always been an exceptionally talented player but has not done justice to his talent but in this series, he appears focused and wants to prove a point and that is why he is succeeding,” Waqar said after the match.

Waqar said Afridi had looked a match winner as a bowler throughout the series but his batting on Sunday was mature and exceptional.

“He took his time to build his innings as there were plenty of overs to play and he played a great knock for Pakistan which needs more such innings from him,” Waqar said.

Not surprisingly, Afridi made no mention of Waqar’s contribution to the team or to him at the post-match presentation instead praising interim coach Mohsin Khan for being a support for him.

“My coach Mohsin Khan has backed me all the way and supported me and Misbah-ul-Haq has led the side very well and given me confidence. I am enjoying doing well for my country,” Afridi said.

He made it clear that he had no issues playing under Misbah and said the captain had kept on encouraging him even after Sri Lanka appeared to be cruising to a win when Sangakkara and Jayawardene were batting together in a century partnership.

For the flamboyant Afridi, the Sri Lanka series has been a triumphant return for him to the team after a much publicised dispute with Waqar that led to him losing his captaincy after the West Indies tour in May and his decision to retire in protest.

Afridi only made himself available for selection after Ijaz Butt, with whom he had developed serious differences, completed his tenure as Chairman of the Pakistan Cricket Board and Zaka Ashraf replaced him in November.(PTI)