Afridi urges fans to back Pakistan team

Shahid Afridi urged fans to back the team after the defending champions' semi-final finish in the World T20, saying public support would spur the squad on.

updated: May 20, 2010 18:11 IST
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Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi on Wednesday urged fans to back the team after the defending champions' semi-final finish in the World Twenty20, saying public support would spur the squad on.

"I am proud of the team, which played as a unit," said Afridi, who led Pakistan in the competition won by England.

"I would request fans to support us because we have seen difficult times in cricket and only unity can help us," said Afridi upon the team's return from the West Indies.

Australia, set a daunting 192 to win the semi-final in St. Lucia on Friday, snatched an improbable win courtesy of a superb 24-ball 60 by Michael Hussey, who hit 18 in the final over bowled by Pakistani spinner Saeed Ajmal.

"We didn't do well in initial matches but were back in rhythm with our Super Eight win against South Africa and that's why the semi-final defeat hurt us," Afridi told reporters.

"Had we won against Australia and lost the final it would have been acceptable.

"But I am satisfied with the overall performance of the team and whoever becomes captain the most important thing should be unity of the team and the support of the fans," said Afridi, captain only of the Twenty20 side.

He backed off-spinner Ajmal.

"I know a lot of people criticise the decision to bowl Ajmal in the last over, but I still maintain that he is a match-winner and bowled us to victory in the last over against South Africa a match earlier," said Afridi.

"I would request fans to accept this result and support the team because we are coming out of difficult times in our cricket."

Pakistan is still reeling from the aftermath of a disastrous tour in Australia that led to bans and fines for seven top players, including Afridi and former captains Younus Khan, Mohammad Yousuf and Shoaib Malik.

Yousuf retired from cricket in protest. Appeals from Younus and Malik are pending with a one-man tribunal of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB).

Pakistan now feature in the four-nation Asia Cup in Sri Lanka from June 15-24, before playing two Twenty20 and two Tests against Australia and four Tests and five one-day matches against England -- all in England.

PCB said it will announce the captain and squad for the Asia Cup and tour of England in the next couple of days.