Team to do well in upcoming matches; Afridi charismatic leader

Source: Published in Sports on Tuesday, March 22, 2016

LAHORE: Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Shaharyar M. Khan, taking a complete somersault on his earlier statements made on Sunday, backed the national team for performing well in the upcoming matches of the World T20 besides throwing full support behind embattled skipper Shahid Afridi.

The chairman, who just a day before had advised the nation not to expect wonders from the current Pakistan team after it had lost the high voltage clash against India, sounded positive about the team preparations for the next two games while speaking to mediamen upon his return from Kolkata.

“Obviously there is a great disappointment after failure against India, but in next two matches against New Zealand and Australia, hopefully the team which is well prepared, will emerge victorious to qualify for the semi-finals,” said Shaharyar.

Pakistan face New Zealand in Mohali on Tuesday which could decide their fate in the mega event.

“Afridi is a match-winner and we appointed him captain till the World T20 because he has a certain charisma as leader and deserves this role,” added Shaharyar, leaving the media personnel absolutely dumbfounded.

Double somersault by Shaharyar stumps media

“Afridi has won matches for Pakistan single-handedly on several occasions, so there should be no two opinions over his captaincy.

“As Afridi has told me that he will retire from the international cricket after this World Cup, I believe he will hang up his boots as per his plan. But if does not retire, then the selectors will have to decide if he is good enough to be selected or not,” he said.

“Look, whenever Pakistan lose any match, there is a lot of criticism on captain, coach and the PCB, but when they win, the same critics go in hiding,” argued Shaharyar.

“Same is the case with Afridi. Though he has won many matches for Pakistan as a hero, when he flops he is made out to be a villain.”

Outlining PCB’s role in the run-up to a high-profile event such as the World T20, Shaharyar said: “As PCB our job is to provide best possible facilities to the players which we do, but even then we receive criticism when the Pakistan team falters.”

In fact, the PCB chief said, everyone in the team and its management should be responsible for the defeats because all the decisions were taken collectively.

Commenting on team coaches, the PCB chief created more confusion by saying that the new coach might be a foreigner. However, later he said the same set of coaches could stay till June.

Inside sources, however, insisted that the posts of all the current selectors and the entire coaching staff were at stake and only a respectable result in the ongoing World T20 could save their jobs.

Meanwhile, Shaharyar disclosed that chairman of ICC Task Force on Pakistan, Giles Clarke will be coming to Pakistan in April to finalise the programme of bringing a Common­wealth team to Pakistan in Septe­mber this year.

“Once the Commonwealth team visits Pakistan, other teams will also start touring and hopefully the bilateral series against India will also be restored,” he said.

He hailed the performance of the Pakistan women’s team for beating India in New Delhi.

“The way our women played to beat a strong team like India, I am hopeful that in the next matches they will earn more success,” he said.

He added that the Pakistan teams received a very warm welcome in India and top-level security was provided to them. He praised the roles of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamta Banerjee and former captain and Bengal Cricket Association’s honorary president Saurav Ganguly in making the teams comfortable during their stay in Kolkata.

To a question, the chairman dispelled the impression that there was any grouping in the Pakistan team and claimed the team was high on spirits and all players were backing each other.

People Mentioned