Shahid Afridi says winning the World Cup with Pakistan would be the perfect way to end his ODI career and admits he made the right decision by calling time on the 50-over game.
The all-rounder will be seeking one last hurrah to bring the curtain down on his 19-year one-day career but standing in the way of a semi-final berth are co-hosts Australia, who are favourites to lift the trophy for a fifth time.
The teams meet on Friday in Adelaide Afridi, who made his ODI debut in 1996, was still a teenager when Pakistan lost to Australia at Lord’s in the final of the World Cup three years later.
Playing in his first World Cup tournament, Afridi made 13 in that final and he says there is a good spirit in the current camp: “The atmosphere is very good in the dressing room, every player backs each other and the players gel together as they know the value of this tournament.
“Pakistan is one team which can beat any team and can lose to any team.”said Shahid Afridi
“I want to do what the team demands. I want to live up to the expectations from the fans and I think that will help the team win. I want a happy ending and I am confident that Pakistan will give its best against Australia.
“Pakistan is one team which can beat any team and can lose to any team and it has been like this for several years but everyone knows that on our day we can beat the best.”
With regards to calling it quits after the World Cup, Afridi said: “Playing for 19 years is more than enough.
“Like any other career it had bad and good times but I played for Pakistan for such a long time which I had never thought would happen.
“Playing five World Cups is a big thing. You perform and you don’t perform, you come under pressure because there are a lot of people who expect a lot from you. That has been part of my career but it has been highly enjoyable.
“I have not thought about anything other than calling it a day because I think new players should come to the fore, players who have done well at domestic level and will carry Pakistan cricket forward.”
The 35-year-old has played 397 ODIs, scoring over 8,000 runs and taking 395 wickets.
In only his second ODI as a 16-year-old he famously scored a 37-ball hundred – which was then a world record – against reigning world champions Sri Lanka.
Meanwhile, Pakistan coach Waqar Younis admits that the loss of fast bowler Mohammad Irfan for Friday’s knockout game is a massive setback but says his team can still beat in-form Australia.
Irfan is out of the tournament with a stress fracture of his pelvis and Waqar said: “It’s unfortunate that we lost him just at the wrong time.
“It’s a huge loss. He was an X-factor for us but we have got to live with it. This injury could have happened a long time before, so we can’t say that it happened two days ago. It’s not easy for us but we have to cope with it.
“I am pleased with the performance of the fast bowlers. Wahab Riaz has taken responsibility and has been delivering and so has Rahat Ali.
“We know Australia play very aggressive cricket and we have to match that.” said Waqar Younis further adding “We have been approaching the games very well in the entire tournament. We had a poor start but we came back well.”
But Waqar did not rule out playing leg-spinner Yasir Shah as Irfan’s replacement on Friday, adding: “We have discussed Shah but we will look at the pitch and if it’s conducive then we will see how it goes.
“Look, we are in a situation where we cannot worry too much. We need to go out and do the best we can. It’s a big game, a quarter-final of the World Cup and we all are very pleased to be here.
“We know Australia play very aggressive cricket and we have to match that.”