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Afridi: 'Our focus is the Windies'
Pakistan skipper ignores talk of potential India clash ahead of West Indies Cricket World Cup quarterfinal.
Last Modified: 22 Mar 2011 12:40
Afridi and Umar Gul, third right, have been outstanding performers for Pakistan in this campaign [AFP]

Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi is putting all talk of a potential semifinal against India to one side as he prepares his side to face the West Indies in Wednesday's Cricket World Cup quarterfinal at the Sher-e-Bangla stadium.

Expectations on his squad have increased following their victory over defending champions Australia on Saturday and all talk is now of the potential India semifinal showdown.

Victory over the defending champions earned Pakistan top spot in Group A and Afridi's lineup are clear favourites against the Windies. If co-hosts and arch-rivals India beat Australia in Thursday's quarter in Ahmedabad the semifinal could turn into one of the best games of the World cup.

But Afridi was remaining focused.

"Our entire focus is on winning the quarterfinal, I am not even thinking of the next match, whether it is India or Australia," he said.

"We will not take the West Indies lightly. Any team is capable of winning on their day, there are no second chances in a knock-out match. I think they are a very good side."

Favourites

The Windies come into the match after ending the group phase with losses to England and India. Darren Sammy's side does have the benefit of having played a match at Dhaka's stadium already - the nine-wicket win over Bangladesh - but Shahid does not believe that will be a factor in the quarterfinal.

"We're not Bangladesh, this is Pakistan,'' he said.

"Every match is different. We played two games here (before the tournament). We know the pitch and how it will play.''

Pakistan were something of an unknown quantity coming into the tournament, especially after losing three players to long-term bans after the spot-fixing scandal in England last year.

The absence of former captain Salman Butt and pace spearheads Mohammad Aamer and Mohammad Asif due to the controversy has not been felt as the team has rallied superbly under their inspirational captain.

All-rounder Afridi is the tournament's leading bowler with 17 wickets with his fastish leg-breaks, while seamer Umar Gul has kept the pressure on at the  other end with 13 wickets.

Pakistan made qualifying for the knockout stage look easy, losing only one match against New Zealand and beating Sri Lanka as well as Australia.

Confidence

Afrifi said the victory over Australia had given the 1992 champions a welcome confidence boost before the knockout stages.

"We really worked hard before this World Cup,'' Shahid said.

"I think we never worked as hard in our career. We had very good (training) camp sessions, we've been taking our practice sessions very seriously.

"The coaches have done a great job with the guys, especially with the fielding. There's a lot of effort behind this.''

Afridi indicated on Tuesday he would retain the side who defeated Australia in the World Cup group stages for Wednesday's match.

Pakistan took the field for the Australia match without fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar and opened the bowling with left-armer Abdur Rehman as the defending champions were beaten for the first time at a World Cup since 1999.

"We want to go with the winning combination. We will see, but I think we are happy with this winning combination," Afridi told a news conference. 

Source:
Agencies
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