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Younis backs Shoaib, Afridi to come good in World T20

May 12, 2009

KARACHI, May 11 Pakistan captain Younis Khan has backed senior players Shoaib Akhtar and Shahid Afridi to fire in next month's ICC World Twenty20 Championship and said he was satisfied with the duo's performance in the just-concluded one-day series against Australia.

“People are criticising Shoaib's performance but the good thing is he is gradually returning to form and fitness and he took part in five of the six matches,” Younis said.

With just three wickets in four ODIs, Shoaib continues to remain a target for critics and some former players. Younis, though, said he was happy that Shoaib had tried and worked hard in the series and was hopeful he would deliver better performances in the World Twenty20 Championship. “He can be a handful in English conditions.”

Younis also pointed out that Afridi had surprised everyone with his performances. “I have told him he has so much talent that instead of scoring just 30 or 40 runs he should be converting them into centuries. He is an extraordinarily talented player.”

He said Afridi had been one of the most committed players against Australia and during team meetings became emotional with the team not performing well.

Younis also dismissed reports of rift in the team. “There is no such thing, the team is united and everyone tried very hard against Australia,” he added.

Younis admitted that former captain Shoaib Malik was a bit down after losing the captaincy but he had made him realise his importance to the team. “I am sad that some people are saying that since I was captain some players deliberately under-performed. This is all rubbish, everyone tried very hard and we will be a different team in the World Twenty20 Championship,” he said.

He said he was unhappy that he could not spend enough time or focus on all-rounder Sohail Tanvir. “He is a very talented player who had a tough time in the series. But he is important for us in the World Twenty20 Championship,” he said.—Agencies