Afridi shuns retirement talks

Shahid Afridi (AFP)
Shahid Afridi (AFP)

Dhaka - Pakistan Twenty20 skipper Shahid Afridi on Friday brushed aside his retirement talks to focus on the Asia Cup and next month's ICC World Twenty20 in India.

Pakistan are set for a cracker of a contest in their Asia Cup opener when they face arch-rivals India in Mirpur on Saturday.

Last year Afridi announced his intention to retire from international cricket after the World T20, but in a recent interview with a leading cricket website he said he is facing a "lot of pressure" to change his mind.

Aware that retirement talks could distract his team, Afridi, who turns 36 next week, said he was setting his sights on the Asia Cup and ICC World Twenty20.

"I think for me the Asia Cup and the World Cup (World Twenty20) is more important than my retirement. I am focusing on that at the moment," Afridi told reporters at Fatullah, just outside the Bangladesh capital on Friday.

Afridi scored just 38 runs in three matches against New Zealand in January and failed to shine with the bat against England in November.

His performance had an impact on the results of Pakistan, who won just one of their last six Twenty20 internationals.

Afridi said at the moment he was taking his bowling more seriously as the team's batting order does not allow him to play power-hitting innings at the top.

"I always gave importance to my performances because it is important for my team," said Afridi.

"My main strength is my bowling but I understand that where I bat I can also contribute for the team and that is important.

"Whether it is 20 or 30 runs but it is important as it all counts."

Afridi said he hoped that his team would be able to give India a competitive match after their players had some useful practice in the recently concluded Pakistan Super League.

India has defeated Pakistan in all but one of their previous Twenty20 internationals but Afridi said past results were irrelevant.

"I am not thinking what we have done against India in the past because I don't live in the past," he said.

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