PALLEKELE, Sri Lanka: With the knock-out stage of the World Cup fast approaching, Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi has warned top title contenders that the tournament is wide open and neither of them can be regarded as the favourites to win the Cup.
“There are no favourites,” Afridi told reporters here at the Pallekele Stadium on Sunday. “It depends on the day, whoever play well to their abilities and strengths they will win. Each and every team knows now that there is no clear favourite. Everyone is trying to win the competition and whoever performs on the day at the right time will win,” he stressed.
There has been a flurry of upsets in the tournament with England being the worst-affected team following defeats against Ireland and Bangladesh. Afridi said the results haven’t surprised him.
“When the world cup began I had said that every team in it is strong and you cannot take any one lightly because they have all come well-prepared for this tournament,” said Afridi, whose team will take on Zimbabwe — one of the tournament minnows — in a Pool A game here on Monday (today).
To a query over the coaches’ role in the World Cup, Afridi commented; “You are your own coach. If you want to improve yourself you can learn from yourself, your own mistakes. But normally the coaches know how to play with the boys’ minds if you are not performing, they should sit with you to give you confidence. That is what I believe coaches should do here at this stage.
“They are not going to show you how to bat and bowl. They should arrange a good practice sessions for you, give you confidence, keep talking to you if you are not performing. That is what I believe international coaching is about.”
Leg spinners like Afridi, who is the tournament’s most successful bowler with 15 wickets, have generally done well in the tournament.
When asked, Afridi said, “If you’ve got the line and length it is difficult to play against them on pitches like this.”