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Hafeez defends under-fire Afridi

Colombo, Oct 5, 2012, DHNS: 23:32 IST
Pakistan’s Shahid Afridi has come under the scanner for his unimpressive performances. REUTERS
Despite his repeated failures with the bat and an average show with the ball, Shahid Afridi enjoyed the strong backing of skipper Mohammad Hafeez who had a difficult time defending the all-rounder after Pakistan crashed to a 16-run loss against Sri Lanka in the World T20 semifinal here on Thursday.

“He is a match-winner and there is no doubt about his abilities but this is the form he is going through,” said Hafeez following Pakistan’s exit from the tournament. “He is in a very bad form at the moment. He has really worked very hard in the whole tournament but unfortunately things did not work for him. I can understand as a captain and as a player because sometimes things don’t work for you. He is a great character, he is always a hard worker and the way he is trying to come out of it is a positive sign for us as a team. That is the reason why we have really given him all the chances,” he explained.

Afridi, who was dismissed for a first-ball duck, has been largely playing as a specialist bowler and in the whole of the tournament the right-hander managed a mere 30 runs in five innings. His bowling too hasn’t been anything out of the ordinary. A performance of four wickets in five matches with an economy rate of 7.12 in a low-scoring tournament doesn’t ring a bell.

“His hard-working attitude was obvious throughout the tournament,” Hafeez continued in further defence of the under-fire player. “He has served Pakistan for a long time and his performances have always been good. But unfortunately, in this tournament, his batting didn’t click and his bowling wasn’t as good as it could have been. As for the change, we picked our playing 11s based on the opposition; otherwise we didn’t make any change that wasn’t required.”

Pakistan’s struggles while chasing also came in for sharp scrutiny on the night. “I think we have discussed this earlier,” he pointed out. “We are not bad chasers but sometimes under pressure, we need to work on partnerships,” he remarked.

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