MIRPUR: With the World Twenty20 beginning here in less than a fortnight’s time, explosive all-rounder Shahid Afridi’s ominous form augurs well for the Pakistan side, skipper Misbah-ul-Haq said.
“The biggest plus has been Afridi. Not only in the Asia Cup but with World T20 coming it’s good for Pak team,” Misbah said after Afridi’s 25-ball 59 with seven sixes and two fours set up a three-wicket win over Bangladesh.
It was Pakistan’s record run chase as they have come out of a poor run of losing 12 matches while chasing 250-plus target.
“He’s always been utilised in T20. He’s being promoted and order. We can utilise him at any position with the way he’s playing,” Misbah said.
Legendary Zaheer Abbas, who is also the batting coach of the side has made the difference to Pakistani batting, Misbah said.
“The message was clear. Legendary Zaheer Abbas had said the ability we have in the dressing room, if we can play 50 overs we can chase any target. Our top batsmen need to play 50 overs. That was the message we sent across,” Misbah said.
“We wanted to ensure that he plays at least 20-25 balls. We are really happy that he did the job for us.”
Terming Afridi’s knock as one of the best ODI ones, Misbah also credited centurion Ahmed Shehzad and the duo of Fawad Alam and Mohammad Hafeez who set up the chase with half centuries each.
“The way they picked up the run-rate was amazing. All three batsmen did well, it was a much needed knock for them. It’s a combination of all these batsmen that won us the game.”
Their previous experiences of playing at the same ground had helped the Pakistani side, Misbah added.
“We have been playing in this ground and on these pitches quite a few times, 300-plus runs were scored. Even in the last Asia Cup it was happening. We were hopeful because the wicket was very good today.”
Misbah said it was great to bounce back after their woeful show on the field especially after the shocking episode of Abdur Rehman being barred from bowling following his three noballs which saw him end with never seen figures of 0-0-8-0.
Showering praise on their batsmen, Misbah said: “We were very much there in the game. we were always hopeful. It’s very sad with Rehman. But the team has fought well, especially in batting. It was quite sensible batting.
First we had the target of 260 in mind to deny them a bonus point. After we came to that position and then we could take off. Batsmen executed brilliantly.”
On Afridi’s batting positions, he said: “We ponder many things, like the opposition bowling, team situation, we calculate all things before sending him. The clear message is to let him play his natural game. He’s the one who can really hit sixes. The form he’s in, he’s playing every bowler very well.”