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My team is capable of playing in the semis: Afridi

Last updated on: March 22, 2011 23:56 IST

'We have never worked this hard before'

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Bikash Mohapatra in Dhaka

His team is the surprise of the tournament thus far.

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And no one is more content than Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi.

"We have worked hard for this World Cup," he explained, adding, "In my 14-year long career we have never worked this hard before."

All the hard work is finally bearing the fruit. It's been a complete turnaround for a side that was mired in various controversies not long back.

Afridi, along with coach Waqar Younis, though have managed to regroup the side and put in a stellar show in the tournament thus far.


Image: Abdul Razzaq celebrates with teammates after claiming a wicket
Photographs: Reuters
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'West Indies is a good unit'

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Two surprise wins, over Sri Lanka and Australia, helped Pakistan finish atop their group (Group A) -- with 10 points despite a surprise loss against New Zealand -- and make sure of a relatively easier last eight tie against the West Indies.

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Afridi though refused to underestimate the Caribbeans, despite the fact that the latter hasn't beaten a top cricketing nation in 34 matches.

"Every team is well-prepared for this World Cup," he said, ahead of the first quarter-final on Wednesday.

"You cannot underestimate any team, especially at this stage of the tournament," he continued, his diplomatic tone very much intact, adding, "West Indies is a good unit, with some promising players in their ranks."


Image: West Indies' Darren Barvo and Bishoo during a training session

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'There are more expectations from us'

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Afridi though sounded confident about Pakistan's prospects.

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"My team is capable of playing in the semi-final," he asserted, adding, "And, hopefully, we win tomorrow.

"We have played two warm-up matches on this ground. So we know the conditions well."

The Pakistan skipper admitted that his side's win over Australia in Colombo -- Pakistan was the last team to beat Australia in a World Cup match in 1999 -- was morale-boosting. However, he added it also meant more was expected from his team now.

"The dressing room atmosphere is positive after that game," explained Afridi, adding, "It was good win for us without doubt.

"But there are more expectations from us after the win. So is our confidence. It is a good sign."


Image: Shahid Afridi and Kamran Akmal during a practice session

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India-Pakistan semis?

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If Pakistan get past the West Indies on Wednesday, they stand a chance of facing neighbours India in a much-anticipated semi-final.

Afridi though refused to comment on that probability.

"I want to focus on the game against the West Indies for the moment," he said, adding, "I don't know what will happen in the semi-final.

"But I don't want to discuss about that now."

He, however, did divulge that Pakistan would prefer to go with the same combination that beat Australia, against the Caribbeans.

"I am very happy with my winning combination," asserted Afridi. "In any case, you can't change a team combination much at this stage of the tournament."


Image: Shahid Afridi and Younis Khan take a break from the practice session

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