Kolkata: Asserting that sports and politics should be kept apart, Pakistan skipper Shahid Afridi on Sunday admitted that his side have not received so much love and affection from their own country as they have got in India. Talking to the media ahead of their warm-up game against Sri Lanka at Eden Gardens on Monday, Afridi said that he has always enjoyed playing the game in India.
“There are very few nations where I have enjoyed playing cricket as much as I have enjoyed in India. I will always remember the love that I and my entire team have got from the Indian fans. We didn’t get so much of love in Pakistan as we have got in India,” Afridi said. “I think cricket had helped in bringing the two nations closer. So, I think that sports and politics should be kept apart,” he added.
The skipper also downplayed media posers about Pakistan’s reluctance to send the nation squad to India for the World T20, saying that his side were prepared, both mentally and physically, that they would definitely travel the host country. Admitting that the first two matches against Bangladesh and India would be extremely important for Pakistan, the 38-year-old called on his side to start the rhythm from the opening match itself.
“The first game is always very important. We will take the rhythm from the very first game. We will play our first match against Bangladesh and then India. Both matches are extremely crucial. Bangladesh are playing good cricket as well. I think we have to maintain our rhythm from the very first match. We have been performing well in this (Eden Gardens) ground. We are well aware about the conditions here,” said Afridi.
The right-handed batsman also praised the Indian side, saying that they had been performing well in recent times.
“No doubt, India are playing a good cricket. If you look at our last game against India in the Asia Cup. I think there was a great performance from Virat Kohli, Yuvraj Singh. They had done really well in that game,” he said. Afridi, however, said that his bowling department is looking good at the moment, adding he was confident that they would do the job for Pakistan.
He further insisted that his side were lacking in proper implementation of their game plan, saying that they would surely emerge victorious if they stick to their plan.
“I think team planning is very important. We should play according to the team plan and we are missing that. I don’t live in the past. But I think, we should learn from the past. If we play according to the team plan then we will definitely do well,” Afridi affirmed.
The Afridi-led side arrived to a warm welcome in Kolkata yesterday after getting the security assurance from the concerned authorities in India and the ICC. The ICC has moved Pakistan’s group match against India to Kolkata on March 19 due to security concerns in Dharamsala.