Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi and coach Waqar Younis claimed on Wednesday that all the national team players are fully fit and will fight victory in the forthcoming matches of the Asia Cup. Addressing a joint press conference here after the conclusion of a short training camp at the Gaddafi Stadium on Wednesday, Afridi said that all the boys were fully prepared for the contest. “All the players including Shoaib Akhtar and Shoaib Malik are quite fit and they have been asked to keep their focus on cricket as the dressing room atmosphere has changed,” Afridi said. “I have talked to both Shoaib and Malik to ensure that no wrong action should come from them as Pakistan cricket is on the revamping course,” he added. About the inaugural match of the Asia Cup against Sri Lanka, Afridi said that a win in that match could give Pakistan a positive start in the tournament. “The Sri Lankan team is a tough opponent and will be playing at home. So a win in that match will raise the morale of our team, which will help us do better in the following matches,” the captain said. Afridi claimed that his side was a balanced one and the boys were quite geared up to deliver. He emphasised that better results in Sri Lanka would also help the national team to do well in future assignments in England. Afridi said all the teams were equally good and he would not judge them as weak rivals. About Shoaib Akhtar’s fitness, Afridi said he was fit and earned his selection. “If Shoaib Akhtar keeps himself fit, he is still an important player for Pakistan till the 2011 World Cup,” he asserted. Backing the younger players named in the squad, Afridi said they had a lot of potential and will definitely be given a chance in the Asia Cup. He asserted that collective efforts were the key to success and he would take all steps to maintain unity in the team. Meanwhile, coach Waqar Younis said the camp was of a shorter duration but he did his best to achieve maximum results in improving the skill of the boys in all departments of the game. “I am fully satisfied with the sessions in the camp and I am looking forward to a good performance from the team in Asia Cup,” the former fast bowler said. “A lot of focus was also on discipline in the camp.” Speaking about the key match against India in the event on June 19, the coach said it will without a doubt be a great contest as India had also announced a very tough team which could test any side. Waqar said the local conditions in Dambulla had been considered before preparing the Pakistan squad. He further said that he was expecting bouncy tracks there helping fast bowlers and it would be difficult to bat under lights on such wickets. To a question regarding the missing seniors Younis Khan and Mohammad Yousuf from the side, Waqar said both were great players but every team needed new blood and he had great hopes from the youngsters accompanying the team. When grilled about the team management’s strategy to keep the media away from the national training camp, Waqar said it was an attempt to avoid further controversies. “Pakistan cricket has been damaged a lot in the last three months due to controversies. The defeats we have faced in the past three months are more when compared to the last 25 years,” he said. Welcoming Shoaib Akhtar back to international cricket, Waqar said though the bowler was staging a comeback after a long gap, he would adjust quickly. “Shoaib is an experienced bowler and we desire that he plays all the matches. But we will use him in such a way that he becomes more effective in important matches.” Waqar dispelled the impression that he had any differences with assistant coach Aaqib Javed and said he was his old time friend. Asked since Aaqib had given a statement against some players before the PCB inquiry committee on which basis the players were heavily penalised, he said the dressing room atmosphere would not be affected due to such things. The players will reassemble in Karachi on June 12 to leave for Sri Lanka.
By: Dawn News


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