Kolkata: Pakistan fast bowler Shaheen Shah Afridi hopes Pakistan can still finish in the top four of the ICC Cricket World Cup despite Pakistan’s progress now depending on the results of other teams in the tournament.
Pakistan on Tuesday defeated Bangladesh by seven wickets at Kolkata’s Eden Gardens to improve their NRR from negative to positive, although they still trail Australia and New Zealand and have a tough task ahead of them if they need to beat them in NRR.
Author of Pakistan’s victory, Shaheen Afridi, with bowling figures of 3 for 23, also achieved the record of fastest pacer to reach the milestone of 100 ODI wickets.
After his remarkable performance, Shaheen expressed his joy and optimism about Pakistan’s prospects in the ongoing tournament.
“Records are meant to be broken,” Shaheen Afridi said modestly. “I am happy to be the fastest bowler for Pakistan to complete 100 wickets. I am happy that we won the game.”
The win against Bangladesh was crucial for Pakistan as they fight to secure a top-four spot and improve their net run rate (NRR).
Shaheen expressed the team’s determination, saying, “We are keen to finish in the top four, and that reflected in our performance today. We wanted to finish the game as early as possible so that we can improve our NRR. We are still I hope to finish in the top four.”
Reflecting on Pakistan’s performance throughout the tournament, he acknowledged occasional mistakes.
“When you win, then everything looks good. And when you don’t, then everyone starts to point things out. I think we didn’t play well in some games. We did our best, but we also made mistakes like we got caught and made some mistakes. Things might have been different if we didn’t make those mistakes. Nevertheless, we are still alive in the tournament and looking forward to do well,” Shaheen said.
When asked about the tough conditions and lack of swing, Shaheen said he expected such conditions in India for the World Cup.
“I expected that I wouldn’t swing too much early on. I got that idea from watching IPL matches. It’s not just me; almost all left-arm fast bowlers struggle to swing the ball, so it seems that length is more important. We checked the length and we tried to bowl using different variations to make the attack effective,” he said.
“Harris Rauf has a very important role in Pakistan’s white-ball team. It is important to understand that the wickets are slow and it is not easy for the pacers to do well. A lot of pace-based bowlers are struggling but I am sure he is a very smart bowler and has used his variation to get Pakistan through,” added Shaheen.
With 16 wickets in the tournament, Shaheen confidently answered any doubts about his pace bowling. “I’ve taken 16 wickets so far so there shouldn’t be any questions about my pace bowling.”
Answering a question, Shaheen said that Shahid Afridi is his hero and he always seeks guidance from the former Pakistan team captain – who is now also his father-in-law.
“Shahid Afridi has done well for Pakistan and he is my hero. I want to emulate him and play as bravely as he used to play,” said the fast bowler.
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