Maverick Afridi to stay away from reckless play

Maverick Afridi to stay away from reckless play

Shahid AfridiWhen the 29-year-old – yes, still only 29 despite 13 years of international cricket! – walks out for the toss alongside Floyd Reifer here on Wednesday, it will mark his debut as Pakistan’s 50-over captain following a hairline fracture sustained by regular skipper Younis Khan when they meet the West Indies in the Champions Trophy.

Afridi has led the national team once, to victory in a one-off T20 international in Sri Lanka two months back, and his elevation to vice-captaincy of the 50-over squad suggested that the powers that be believed his erratic ways of the past was history.

“Responsibility has matured me,” Afridi said on Tuesday afternoon. “I still enjoy my cricket, but I now try and avoid the reckless strokeplay!”
Ruling out any pressure because of the captaincy, the all-rounder went on, “The one who handles pressure well become a good cricketer. There is no need for me to feel under pressure because I have the players’ and the coach’s support.” A journey that began at Nairobi in October 1996 has taken Afridi on a roller-coaster ride of outstanding highs and terrible lows.

“There’s been good times and bad, wins and losses, smiles and tears -- more of the latter for me,” Afridi conceded. “It’s been a struggle, similar to what life is like. But I’m enjoying my cricket, and I will continue to enjoy it till such time that I play the game. It is an honour just to be playing for Pakistan. To captain the side is a dream come true.

“I hope to come up to the expectations placed in me by the Board and the coach. I have already captained once in Sri Lanka, with success. Tomorrow is a really important match and I will try and instil the winning mentality into the players.”

Pakistan have never won the Champions Trophy, though they come into this event just three months after crowning themselves World T20 champs in England. “Every tournament is important for us,” said Afridi. “Especially after the T20 win, there are a lot of expectations from us. We'll play hard, we are very focussed and keen to win this title too.”

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