By Omar Khalid
Taunton, Sep 2 (IANS): Pakistan's one-day cricket captain Shahid Afridi vowed to put aside a raging betting scandal allegedly involving three of his key players and lead his side from the front in the series against England in Cardiff from Sunday.
Afridi said Thursday that his team was going through a tough time because of 'spot-fixing' allegations against some fellow team-mates but was quick to add that his players would overcome all odds and give their best in the series.
"These are tough times for us, there is no doubt about it," said Afridi, who is hoping that allegations against Pakistani players Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir of involvement in a betting scam will prove wrong.
"It has hurt us all and we are hoping that the controversy will end soon," he said.
The tainted trio missed a practice game against Somerset in Taunton as they are in London for a crucial meeting with Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) and International Cricket Council (ICC) officials and senior diplomats.
The three are also unlikely to feature in the one-day series as the PCB is under
increasing pressure to drop them in the wake of the spot-fixing allegations.
Afridi, 30, said their possible axing will be a huge setback for his team.
"Salman, Amir and Asif are three of our key players," Afridi said.
"Already it was a tough assignment because England are a very strong team. It would become even more difficult for us if we are forced to play without them," he stressed.
But Afridi was quick to add that his players have the ability to put the scandal behind them and give their best in the series.
"The boys are real fighters. They've been under immense pressure over the last few days but we are regrouping pretty fast and are aiming to shine in the forthcoming series in spite of all odds," he said.
"Our main task is to shift our focus completely on the upcoming one-day series. We are doing that and I'm confident that the boys will be fully ready ahead of the series," he said.
Afridi said he and his boys want to play good cricket in order to put the team in the headlines for all the right reasons.
"It's our aim to place our team and cricket itself in the limelight for all the right reasons," he said.
"We know that we can do that by playing good cricket. We have to play good cricket for the team, for our compatriots back home and for the crowds who will come to venues to watch the upcoming matches," he added.
Pakistan lost the four-Test series against England 1-3 last week at Lord's where the finale was overshadowed by the 'spot-fixing' scandal. Angry fans raised slogans against the accused players as they left Lord's after crashing to their worst-ever Test defeat last Sunday.
There are fears that Pakistan might have to endure hostile crowds during the one-day series but Afridi is confident that his team will give their fans plenty of reasons to cheer about during the Twenty20 and one-day games.
"We are a good team in limited-overs matches and will go all out against England in the upcoming series," he promised.