Pakistan took an early exit from the Asia Cup T20, their talismanic skipper Shahid Afridi believes that his side can make amends at the upcoming World T20. In an interview to TOI, Afridi praised Indian batsman Virat Kohli’s aggressive nature of cricket. Afridi also termed India as the favourite for the World T20 title.
“I have said this before too – no one should be compared to Sachin Tendulkar. He has been a great role model for millions of Indians and for those who follow the sport across the world. Virat has been a champion player too. He has been consistent over the years and his aggressive nature is great for the game. Both are fantastic cricketers and I wouldn’t put one above other,” Afridi praised the performances of Virat Kohli who has been in the prolific form off late.
He also rubbished the comparison between him and Sachin Tendulkar, he said that nobody could be compared with Indian batting great.
Asked about Pakistan’s chances at the World T20, he said, “Look, we made too many mistakes in this competition. Our batting hasn’t fired and you can’t win matches if you lose quick wickets right at the start of play. The middle-order and our bowling did keep us in the hunt, especially in matches against Bangladesh and India, but it wasn’t enough. I still believe we have the team to go the distance (in T20 World Cup). It is a format where our boys have done well. We will have to do something special to make a mark because we are in a tough group with the likes of India, Australia and New Zealand.”
Talking about Amir’s return he said, “Amir has been sensational and bowled his heart out each time he was given the ball. As a skipper, I can’t ask for more. There was huge pressure on him when he came back on the side, but he has handled himself well and justified his selection.”
Meanwhile, Afridi felt Indians are the firm favourite for the World T20. The allrounder said, “I believe India have been able to raise their game in crucial junctures, which we haven’t. In the last game against India, we failed to read the pitch and made too many errors that cost us the game. We fought hard and made it tough for them, but when you don’t have runs on the board the bowlers can’t do much.”
Afridi in 2009 World T20 in England played a cameo innings and won the maiden shortest format laurels for Pakistan. “It was a massive moment not just for the team, but for those at the stadium cheering us, and for the entire nation. On the day of the final, there were butterflies in my stomach. I was supremely confident, and somehow knew we would do well. We didn’t have a daunting total to chase, and vividly recall the six I hit against Muttiah Muralitharan towards mid-wicket. Even today, whenever I have some free time I catch that innings of my mine on the internet. That win remains the proudest moment for me till date,” Afridi resonated.
The veteran all-rounder, who started his career as a pinch-hitter, asked about the hard bitter of world cricket. He said Indian captain MS Dhoni is one of the big hitters among them. “There are quite a few such as Chris Gayle, AB de Villiers, Virat, Glenn Maxwell, David Warner, and, of course, MS Dhoni among others. On a given day, these players are extremely destructive,” Afridi signed off.