Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi has insisted revenge will not be on his mind when his side face Australia in the World Twenty20 today. Defending champions Pakistan began their title defence with a 21-run win over Bangladesh at the Beausejour Stadium yesterday. But they are a much changed side from the one that beat Sri Lanka in last year's World Twenty20 final at Lord's. That is mainly because of the fall-out from their recent tour of Australia where Pakistan failed to win in three Tests, five one-day internationals and a Twenty20.
Even by Pakistani standards, the fall-out was dramatic with former captains Mohammad Yousuf and Younus Khan receiving indefinite bans for infighting. Meanwhile Shoaib Malik and Naved-ul-Hasan were both suspended for a year while Afridi and the Akmal brothers, Kamran and Umar, were fined and put on probation for six months each. In Australia, Afridi received a two-match Twenty20 ban for ball-tampering, caused by bizarrely chewing on the ball, in a one-day international in Perth.
But Afridi insisted he was in no mood to put one over the Aussies on Sunday, saying: "Winning and losing is something different but I want my team to play good cricket. "The guys here are feeling good and are very united. These guys here are my big players." Afridi hailed opener Salman Butt's performance against Bangladesh. Yesterday's success was built on an opening stand of 142 between Kamran Akmal and Butt, who both made 73
But it was left-hander Butt who won the man-of-the-match award after a 46-ball innings featuring two sixes and eight fours. His stylish knock was full of genuine cricket shots and he rarely resorted to crude slogging. "When we had our camp back home, I saw him in the practice games and he played very well," Afridi said. "I thought maybe he was going to the West Indies with me but I don't think he will get a chance. But when I saw him he was batting very well, especially in the first six overs, and I told Salman Butt 'you are my main guy.'
"He was playing proper shots as well. In the six overs, you don't need two (Sanath) Jayasuriyas, two (Virender) Sehwags or two Afridis," added the Pakistan captain as he listed some of the biggest hitters in world cricket. Bangladesh captain Shakib Al Hasan was disappointed not to be playing Australia at Beausejour rather than in Barbados, where the expected livelier pitch is set to be in favour of the Aussies' pace attack.
"Pakistan have a very important game tomorrow and mathematically there's still a possibility (that Bangladesh can qualify for the Super Eights)," all-rounder Shakib said. "In Barbados there will be bounce and carry. We would have loved to have played Australia here." * AFP