x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Afridi admits his team are losing time to build World Cup challenge

The burden of responsibility clearly weighed heavily on the free-spirited all-rounder during the ODI series with South Africa.

DUBAI // Misbah-ul-Haq, the Test captain, assumed the leadership reins of the Pakistan side from Shahid Afridi yesterday, knowing he has much to do to right the course of the troubled national team.

Afridi, the most celebrated player in Pakistan, is a popular leader of the one-day side among the supporters and players.

Yet the burden of responsibility clearly weighed heavily on the free-spirited all-rounder, as his side eventually added a 3-2 one-day series loss to their Twenty20 whitewash at the hands of South Africa.

After losing the decisive fifth match of the series on Monday night, Afridi, the harassed limited-overs captain, admitted his side were running out of time to build a successful World Cup challenge.

"Of course these problems have an effect, but these are issues which we hope will be sorted out by the PCB [Pakistan Cricket Board] and ICC [International Cricket Council]," Afridi said.

To exacerbate the run of defeats, the team were also mired in controversy again by the sudden disappearance of Zulqarnain Haider on Monday morning. The absence of the wicketkeeper, after he apparently received death threats, was the latest in a litany of crises in Pakistan cricket, and one which Afridi found difficult to bear.

Both Afridi and Haider are represented by the same Dubai-based management company.

"I wouldn't call [the captaincy] a burden, but it is a very, very big responsibility, and I think it is one that Shahid relishes," Umran Khan, the agent of both players, said.

"If there are any issues within the team, they need to speak to the skipper about them. As Shahid would tell you, the skipper's door is always open."