ISLAMABAD: Pakistan's star pacer Shaheen Shah Afridi said on Sunday that his side was "eager" to meet expectations of fans ahead of their World Cup match against Afghanistan.
The Chennai chapter of Pakistan’s campaign in the World Cup begins on Monday when they play Afghanistan at the MA Chidambaram Stadium. After Afghanistan, Pakistan will stay on in the city to play South Africa on October 27 for their second and last match of the tournament here.
Pakistan, after four games, are 5th on the points table with two wins and as many losses. After their remarkable wins over the Netherlands and Sri Lanka, which saw them make the record for the highest successful chase in the history of the tournament, Pakistan have had a few tough outings.
The green shirts are determined to leave Chennai 4-2 up and Afridi believes that learnings from the last two matches will help the side in the upcoming games.
“We are aware of the expectations from the team and we are eager to fulfil them,” the pacer said, as quoted by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) in a statement.
“A loss is a loss and we need to accept it. But, learning from it would be better for the team. These two matches were very important for us, but we are very much alive in the tournament. We are here to make history [by winning the World Cup].”
It will be Afghanistan’s second match on the trot here in Chennai. While the experience of playing New Zealand, albeit in a defeat, may help them. They are also buoyed by a win over England.
However, the Afghan side is yet to defeat Pakistan in One-Day Internationals.
"There is no room for complacency in a tournament like the World Cup as any team can beat anyone, something that we have seen so far," Afridi said, when asked if he expected the past record to prevail.
"Afghanistan have been playing good cricket and they have recently defeated England. We will have to show up with the best skills against them. They have world-class spinners, but, thanks to Almighty, our batting unit has also been doing well."
Chennai has a reputation for being a spin-friendly venue, but Afridi said the Pakistan pacers will be looking to do their part in the middle overs.
"There are many venues in India that favour spinners and Chennai is one such venue," he said. "As fast bowlers, our role is to make the most of the reverse swing on offer in the middle overs and in the latter stages of the game."
Despite a solid opening partnership from centurions David Warner and Mitchell Marsh, Pakistan bowlers restricted Australia to 367 at Bengaluru, easily one of the highest-scoring venues.
Afridi bowled a tight spell upfront and returned to take five wickets to record his second five-wicket haul in as many iterations of the 50-over World Cup. The left-arm pacer finished with five for 54 from 10 overs in conditions tailor-made for batting.
"I was aware of the fact that it is a high-scoring venue and I was mentally prepared for it. I tried different variations as you have to do to be successful on such pitches. So, bowling variations and pulling my length a little back helped me," the pacer said.
"It is very important to acclimatize as a bowler. It is not like I have done something new, but I have gotten used to the conditions here. You do not get that much swing in India as you do in England, Australia or New Zealand. There is not much bounce in the pitches here either, because of which we get to see high-scoring games here. So, being good in the field becomes of utmost importance as a couple of good catches or run outs can boost your team."