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Afridi sees no impact of Sharjah Test loss on T20I series

DUBAI: Pakistan T20 captain Shahid Afridi is confident of starting afresh in the two-match T20 series against New Zealand. 

Afridi looked at the T20 series with a fresh approach and did not think the result of the Sharjah Test will have an impact on the limited-overs series, 

"Obviously every game is a new game for us and every series is a new series. But we all know how important every series and every match is for us because the World Cup is not too far away. I think the boys are feeling very confident ahead of the series and my side is a very well-balanced one. I am sure it would be a good series. Test cricket is different, this format is totally different. So, I think that victory is history and tomorrow will be a new day.," said Afridi. 

With the focus of all sides on the upcoming ODI World Cup, the T20 series will be difficult to measure upto for some. But Afridi did not look at it from that point of view.

"You can’t compare the T20s with the ODI cricket. It’s a totally different format. But I think a victory, and to have a winning combination is very important. You feel more confident after a victory. And I have said that each victory and each game before the World Cup is important to us,'' added Afiridi. 

Afridi conceded that all his focus has been on his bowling in the last few years and indicated that he is looking for a change in batting position in the coming matches.

"No doubt I have concentrated a lot on my bowling for the last three-four years, and I do know that my batting is anyways a ‘once-in-a-blue-moon’ type of a batting. But I want to make sure that I focus on my batting also because it is very important for me. There have been many matches in the past that I have been able to win for Pakistan on the basis of my batting alone. I have even had a word with the coach if it is possible for me to bat a little higher up in the order when I have some more overs to bat. I do understand that my fans like my batting more compared to bowling. I am going to try my best to get back into some good batting form before the World Cup," revealed Afridi. 

Afridi felt that his second stint as captain has been as big a challenge as his first. "Captaining Pakistan has always been a huge challenge. There is the team performance and then there is your own, and then there is the pride and honour of being the captain. But after playing cricket for so many years, I do have to accept these challenges. I want to be remembered for my performances and my contribution to the team. My only ambition is that when I finally leave cricket, I want my team to be in a good position." 

Afridi also lauded the return of Umar Gul. "Let’s not compare a fast bowler to a spinner. A fast bowler has got his own utility in the team. Of course, I have always said that Saeed has been one of the best bowlers in the world. He has performed brilliantly for Pakistan. But if you look at the last series, our spinners have done very well despite his absence and played a very important role in our wins. I believe that Pakistan has got good bowling strength. We have bowlers sitting who are waiting for their chance to get into the team. It’s not as if we are struggling to find another spinner. I think we have always been blessed with good bowling combinations." 

Afridi felt that New Zealand will be a big challenge in the T20 series. "I think in this T20 format, you just can’t underestimate any team. New Zealand are a very good side and I am expecting very close and exciting matches."

Afridi has now completed 18 years as a cricketer and began playing with the likes of current chief selector Moin Khan and coach Waqar Younis. Afridi rrevealed that it still does not feel like 18 years have passed since the time he started playing cricket. 

"Well, it’s been 18 years but it feels like I started yesterday. I was talking to Moeen a couple of days ago and I do feel that cricket has changed a lot in these years. But I have to admit that the cricket I enjoyed most was in the company of these great players.

"Obviously, when it is time to leave cricket, there are many youngsters who want to follow you in every possible way. It starts from such things like how you sit and stand, and what you eat. They follow everything that you do. So, it does become necessary to set a good example for these youngsters. You’ve got to impress upon these youngsters that you have to work really hard to be in the team for 18 years," added Afridi.

Shahid Afridi's pre-match media conference (in Urdu) 3 December 2014

Shahid Afridi's pre-match media conference (in Urdu) 3 December 2014