2017 ICC Champions Trophy: Shahid Afridi Wants Seniors To Perform Against In-Form England In Semi-Final Clash
Former Pakistan skipper Shahid Afridi in his exclusive column for ICC Digital, suggested the senior campaigners of the national team to step on the gas in the all-important semi-final against England at the Sophia Gardens in Cardiff on Wednesday (June 14).
“I really hope that [Shoaib] Malik and [Mohammad] Hafeez come good in the semi-final since the team would be pinning its hopes on them, especially against a top-class English unit, which unlike Sri Lanka, isn’t expected to give Pakistan chances of coming back in the game,” Afridi wrote for ICC Digital.
Pakistan registered a win in the low-scoring thriller after committing hara-kiri in the middle-overs, thanks to skipper Sarfraz Ahmed, who remained unbeaten on 61 alongside Mohammad Amir which further saw Sri Lanka bogged down the crucial chances.
The 37-year-old all-rounder Afridi is expecting Sarfraz Ahmed-led side to put in their hard fight against quality team England which was the first team to qualify for the semi-finals of the ongoing ICC Champions Trophy, as they have won their all three Group A fixtures.
“I really hope that Pakistan fights hard against England in the semi-final and we see a real fighting effort by the players,” Afridi maintained in his write-up.
However, the former all-rounder is wary about England’s batting-heavy unit as he further feels the hosts would not be taking Pakistan easy while adding if Three Lions will give chances to Pakistan it could result in the remarkable turnaround.
“One thing is for sure – that England can’t afford to take the Men in Green lightly. If England does that, it can be in for a real shock on Wednesday,” Afridi revealed.
After revealing about the semi-final clash against star-studded England line-up, Afridi has praised the national side bowlers for hitting the right length to pressurise Sri Lankan batters.
While praising skipper Sarfraz for showing the temperament and Mohammad Amir for his composed stay at the crease Afridi feels it was Pakistan’s game, but they almost let-it-off when the side was reeling at 162 for seven.
However, the crucial 75-run partnership between Sarfraz and Amir helped the side to register the nail-biting finish after Sri Lankan bowlers made a significant comeback when Pakistan was 74 for one.
“It was truly a nerve-wracking encounter between two teams who made quite a few errors in the game. Pakistan owes it to its pugnacious captain and the icy cool Amir,” Afridi stated.
Afridi who analyzed the game revealed Pakistan had to rely on individual performances even after a good start at the wicket which was decent for the batting.
Afridi somehow as a former player would take the win irrespective of the result during the game, but pointed the loopholes which Pakistan needs to plug in before facing off Eoin Morgan-led in-form England.
Afridi admitted the fact that Pakistan is struggling while chasing down the targets which were further proved by the dramatic collapse in the virtual quarter-final against Sri Lanka, after left-handed batsman Fakhar Zaman registered his maiden fifty off 36 balls, as the latter praised former for playing his natural game.
“We all know that chasing is a real challenge for Pakistani teams regardless of the score,” Afridi asserted.
In his straightforward, review Afridi stated senior batsmen Mohammad Hafeez and Shoaib Malik have faltered in the crunch game, revealing he has a quality experience on his back while donning Pakistan’s national jersey.
Afridi has featured in 398 One-day International, 98 Twenty20 Internationals and 27 Tests for Pakistan. He claimed 395 wickets in ODIs followed by 97 in T20Is and 48 wickets in Test cricket.
Tahir Ibn Manzoor
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