Afridi Hints at Including an Extra Spinner in Pakistan Team

By Omar Khalid

Dhaka, Feb 14 (IANS) Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi Monday hinted at playing an ‘extra spinner' in the team during the World Cup which gets underway Feb 19.

The experienced all-rounder said Pakistan have several spin options and they are prepared to unleash them on turning tracks of the sub-continent.

"The playing conditions here would be quite different to what we encountered during our tour of New Zealand," Afridi said.

Pakistan will play two warm-up matches here before beginning its campaign in Pool A against Kenya in Hambantota, Sri Lanka, Feb 23.

"Here we can explore the idea of playing an extra specialist spinner," he added.

Pakistan has two specialist spinners - Saeed Ajmal and Abdur Rehman - in its 15-man squad. Afridi and all-rounder Mohammad Hafeez also add variety to its spin attack.

Afridi has also played down fears that Pakistan will be going into the World Cup with a depleted pace attack saying that his fast bowlers have the guts to shine in the mega event.

"I don't think that there is any cause for concern," Afridi said. "Our team is shaping up well and the boys are all highly motivated to give their best in the World Cup," he stressed.

Pakistan will go into the World Cup after a morale-boosting ODI series triumph in New Zealand earlier this month.

Despite the good results, Pakistan are not counted among the top five title contenders because of their depleted pace battery. Pakistan's two most lethal pacers Mohammad Aamer and Mohammad Asif have been banned by the International Cricket Council (ICC) on charges of spot-fixing.

Left-arm pacer Sohail Tanvir, who was a surprise inclusion in the squad, was also dropped at the last minute due to fitness issues and has been replaced by rookie pacer Junaid Khan.

An ageing Shoaib Akhtar will be leading the pace attack that includes Umar Gul, Wahab Riaz and Abdul Razzaq. Akhtar is in the twilight of his international career while Gul has had more than his fair share of fitness problems in recent years.

But Afridi is confident of his fast bowlers.

"Let me tell you that Shoaib Akhtar is working really, really hard because he wants to be at his best in the World Cup. In terms of fitness, Shoaib may be a bit down but he is totally committed and is improving day by day. I won't be surprised if he is back at his brilliant best at the World Cup," said Afridi.

He also praised Umar Gul, saying that the lanky pacer will be one of his key men in the World Cup.

"Gul is a valuable player. He is a match winner," he said.

Afridi is confident that each of his players can be a match winner on his day.

"I have complete confidence in my boys because each and every one of them is a match-winner. They need to click and I'm sure they will do that in the World Cup."


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Title: Afridi Hints at Including an Extra Spinner in Pakistan Team

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