21 March 2011
Australia win restored Pakistan image, says Afridi
Pakistan's skipper says focus is on the quarter final match and the team is not thinking too far ahead
Shahid Afridi reacts after being dismissed in the semifinal of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 against India.
Pakistan's World Cup victory over Australia has restored the team's battered image and boosted their credentials as champions-in-waiting, skipper Shahid Afridi told AFP on Monday.
Pakistan upstaged Australia by four wickets to end the defending champions' unbeaten 34-match streak in the World Cup stretching back to 1999.
It also meant Pakistan finished top of Group A and gave them a quarter-final clash against the West Indies in Dhaka on Wednesday while Australia tackle India in Ahmedabad on Thursday.
"We knew that beating Australia would be very important for us and this win has enhanced our image, sending a good signal to the cricket world that we can win despite our difficult situation," Afridi told AFP.
Pakistan entered the tournament on the back of a spot-fixing scandal which led to lengthy bans on former Test captain Salman Butt and pacemen Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Aamer.
The three men are also facing criminal proceedings in the United Kingdom.
Pakistan has also been a no-go area for international teams since the terrorist attacks on the Sri Lankan team bus in Lahore two years ago.
Those attacks, which killed eight people and injured seven Sri Lankan players and their asistant coach, forced the International Cricket Council to strip Pakistan of its 2011 World Cup co-hosting rights.
Afridi said Pakistan still has a deep well of natural cricketing talent. "Despite all the problems Pakistan is blessed with talent and it's because of this talent that we are a dangerous team and can win against anyone. We now hope to carry on the momentum," said Afridi.
The Pakistan captain disagreed that the West Indies, who squeezed into the last eight on run-rate, will be easier opponents. "They have qualified for the quarter-finals after some good play, so we have to do well in all three departments because it's a knockout stage from here," said Afridi, the leading wicket-taker with 17 in six matches so far.
Afridi said he was not thinking of a potentially high-voltage semi-final clash against India if the two Asian rivals come through their last-eight tests.
"Our focus is on the quarter-final, we have to win that to reach the semi-final, so we are not thinking that far. First we have to win a must-win match against a dangerous opponent," said Afridi.
The winners of the first two quarter-finals meet in the second semi-final at Mohail on March 30.
South Africa play New Zealand on March 25 (Dhaka) and Sri Lanka face England (Colombo) in the last quarter-final a day later - with the winners to play the first semi-final in Colombo on March 29.
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