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Pakistan regain respect

Shahid Afridi (centre) played a pivotal role in Pakistan’s resurgence.

Shahid Afridi (centre) played a pivotal role in Pakistan’s resurgence.

KARACHI — Following a disappointing Champions Trophy campaign in which Pakistan failed to win a single game, they bounced back in the West Indies, winning the ODI and T20 series. Reflecting on the tours on arrival in Pakistan, senior players urged fans to savour the team’s recent success and forget the past.

“We didn’t give our best in the Champions Trophy,” Saeed Ajmal said on arrival in Lahore. “But we have won back the respect and had a strong comeback. They (West Indies) were playing at home and were stronger and it wasn’t easy to beat them as you have seen how close the games were. But we worked hard, every player did well and the collective efforts led to the team’s win.”

When put under the spot by a journalist who stated with a touch of cynicism that the victories came against an underperforming West Indies team, Ajmal smiled and said: “Do appreciate us sometimes.”

Four players — Umar Akmal, Misbah-ul-Haq, Mohammad Hafeez and Ahmed Shehzad remained in the West Indies to feature in the Caribbean Premier League. After losing 3-2 to South Africa earlier this year, Pakistan beat Scotland and Ireland in closely fought contests before heading to the Champions Trophy. Pakistan bounced back strongly in the West Indies, taking the ODIs 3-1 and sweeping the T20s 2-0, maintaining their unbeaten ODI series record in the Caribbean in the last 20 years.

Shahid Afridi too spoke on the significance of the victory.

“This was a much-needed win,” Afridi said in Karachi. “We played well as a team and won. It was needed after the performances in the Champions Trophy and South Africa. We wanted this win and I am sure that this will help improve the image of the team as well as the players. When you play well it erases the bad memories.”

When asked about the allegations of fixing in the West Indies ODI series leveled by the Mail on Sunday, Afridi said he was unaware of the report.

“Who says so? Where has it appeared?” Afridi asked. “I don’t know, really. But I must say savor this win when you have done well and forget other things.” (cricinfo)

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