Hafeez defends beleaguered Afridi
COLOMBO: Shahid Afridi’s insipid performance has been a letdown for Pakistan in the World Twenty20 but captain Mohammad Hafeez sprang to the besieged all-rounder’s support saying he gave his best in the tournament.
The former captain played a poor shot to be bowled out on the first delivery he faced against Rangana Herath with Pakistan struggling during their chase of 140 runs for a place in Sunday’s final.
The 2009 champions lost the first semi-final against hosts Sri Lanka by 16 runs on Thursday.
Afridi, who 16 years ago on the same day struck the fastest-ever century in 50-over cricket against the same opponents, took
the prized wicket of Sri Lankan captain Mahela Jayawardene on Thursday but has been cold with both bat and ball in the tournament.
“He is a match winner; there is no doubt about his abilities. But I think… he is really in a bad form at the moment,” Hafeez told reporters when asked about the 32-year-old all-rounder’s performance.
The popular cricketer scored just 30 runs in five innings and took only four wickets with his leg-spin bowling in six matches.
“He’s really worked hard in the whole tournament, but unfortunately things didn’t work for him,” Hafeez said.
“I can understand as a captain, as a player, when things don’t work for you.
“But he is a character, he is always a hard-worker and I think he is trying to come out of it [which] is a positive sign for us as a team. So that’s the reason we have given him all the chances.”
Hafeez said he was proud of his team’s campaign, adding the hosts deserved to be in the final.
The defeat is the second successive exit at the semi-final stage of the World Twenty20 for Pakistan following their loss to Australia at the same stage of the 2010 event held in the West Indies.
Pakistan, among the pre-tournament favourites, finished runners-up to India in the inaugural event in 2007 in South Africa before winning the title in England two years later.
“We played positive cricket and I am proud of my team,” Hafeez said. “Sri Lanka deserved to win and they are worthy finalists on the basis of what they have done in this tournament.”
But the skipper admitted the target should have been well within his side’s reach. “The pitch was turning and it was difficult to score runs and we lost some wickets in the middle and couldn’t stage a comeback. We should have chased that down.”
The skipper said Pakistan’s weakness in chasing was a concern. “I would not say that we are bad chasers but, yes, it is a concern and we have to sort that out with some planning because it has become a problem.”—Agencies