Pakistanís star all-rounder Shahid Afridi attended his first sports psychotherapy session to improve his performance and perhaps fight some mental demons as his side prepares for the upcoming Champions Trophy, APP reported.
The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) hired the services of former Test cricketer and sports psychologist Moin-ul-Atiq in July last year to work with several young Pakistani stars. Since then, Atiq has been working closely with players at the National Cricket Academy in Lahore.
Atiqís latest case, Afridi, may not be such a simple one to solve, however. Since making his debut in 1996, the flamboyant cricketer has played his game with a free spirit and largely ignored the advice that has come his way. It is something that has irked experts and fans alike and been cited as the reason for the player not reaching his full potential in what has been a fairly long career.
This time, though, the chat has mostly been about Afridiís bowling, something which Atiq spent a considerable time discussing with the all-rounder on Friday. The session included lectures and analysis of videos of Afridiís bowling performances, and was focused on getting the veteran player motivated.
Afridi has been named in the shortlist of 30 probables for the Champions Trophy by the national selectors but indications are that if he doesnít perform in the domestic Presidentís Cup limited-overs tournament, he might be overlooked in the final selection.
Afridi had two good innings of 34 and 88 in the recent five-match ODI series in South Africa but has struggled as a bowler which is his primary role in the team. He went wicketless in all five ODIs on the tour.
Afridi and senior batsman Younis Khan, who has been dropped for the Champions Trophy, have both vowed to play in the Presidentís Cup and make an impression on the national selectors.
The 33-year-old will be representing a star-studded Habib Bank (HBL) Ė one of the leading contenders for the title in the Presidentís Cup and sounded confident of turning around his fortunes.
ďI know it is very important for me to give my best in this tournament. Itís a perfect opportunity for me to regain my confidence with both bat and ball which is why Iím looking forward to giving my best in it,Ē told a local newspaper.
ďI believe that there is still a lot of cricket left in me and hopefully Iím going to prove it.
ďIím confident of making some runs and taking wickets in the one-day tournament. Though there is a world of a difference between domestic and international cricket, I believe that a good show here would come as a boost to my confidence.Ē
The PCB has also given Atiq the task of having counseling sessions with other key players before the ICC event in England which starts in June.