KARACHI: When Pakistan will kick off their title campaign in the ICC World Twenty20 championship in St Lucia with a tricky opening game against Group A rival Bangladesh on May 1, it will be after a long time that they will begin a tournament as the defending champions.
The Greenshirts won the title just nine months back in England but much has changed since that memorable triumph. Younis Khan, the man who led them to the title has retired from the Twenty20 format while Pakistan are still smarting from a catastrophic tour of Australia.
A preparatory camp under progress in Lahore has created more problems for Pakistan with key players like their pace spearhead Umar Gul picking up a shoulder injury.
But in spite of all the doom and gloom, Shahid Afridi is confident that his team “can do it again”.
Afridi, appointed Pakistan captain for the World Twenty20, believes that unity will be the key for his team’s success and said that his players have gelled well ahead of the much-awaited spectacle.
“Its all bout team spirit and the hunger to win,” Afridi told ‘The News’ here on Thursday. “The good thing is that we have both of those ingredients which is why I’m confident about our title chances,” he added.
Afridi said that being defending champion was both a cause of extra pressure as well as much-needed confidence.
“Obviously there will be pressure for us because we are the champions and everybody here expects us to win the title again,” he said.
“But I think it would also be a great source of confidence. The boys know that they won the title just nine months back and are good enough to do it again.”
Afridi, 30, said that the captaincy responsibility should bring the best out of him. “I personally think this new responsibility will make me give an even better performance in the West Indies,” said the allrounder, who was Pakistan’s hero in the 2009 World Twenty20 with match-winning performances with both the bat and ball.
Afridi had downplayed the affect that a few injuries might have on Pakistan’s title hopes, saying that his boys will be fully ready for the challenge.
“We are having a very demanding training camp and its natural to have a few injuries. But I’m confident that everything will be fine by the time we leave for the West Indies.”
Afridi said that the slow wickets in the West Indies should suit Pakistan and other Asian teams. “The conditions there would be very much similar to what we have in the subcontinent which is why I’m hopeful that we will benefit from them.”