Shahid Afridi: Shoaib Malik and Mohammad Hafeez need to step up against India

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Shahid Afridi: Shoaib Malik and Mohammad Hafeez need to step up against India

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SportsCafe Desk

06/18/2017

Former Pakistani skipper Shahid Afridi expects the experienced duo of Shoaib Malik and Mohammad Hafeez to come to the fore in today’s Champions Trophy final against India. Afridi also had a word of praise for Pakistan’s opening duo of Azhar Ali and Fakhar Zaman for their performances so far.

Shahid Afridi could not contain his joy about Pakistan reaching the final of the ongoing Champions Trophy. And he made his feelings known in his blog for the ICC's official website wherein he also had a word of advice about how Pakistan should approach the final against India.

Afridi started off by praising current Pakistan skipper Sarfaraz Ahmed for his captaincy in the tournament so far. “I want to say that the final has given Sarfraz a God-given opportunity of leaving a lasting legacy. The feisty wicket-keeper batsman is still learning the art of captaincy, yet has grown in stature as leader in every game this tournament. My advice to Sarfraz for the final is simple - take all decisions wholeheartedly and without any fear whatsoever.”

Pakistan have found a perfect opening partnership in the form of Azhar Ali and Fakhar Zaman with the duo getting the Green Brigade off to good starts. And understandably, Afridi praised the pair, saying, “I am heartened by Pakistan’s opening partnership of Fakhar Zaman and Azhar Ali. The two have done a fantastic job for the team at the start of the innings and one more partnership of substance can give the side the required momentum for a possible victory.”

“Azhar has been a revelation for me. Leading up to the tournament, his presence in the eleven was questioned by many, yet he has once again displayed that he is a strong character who makes a genuine effort to adapt to different situations in a match.”

As far as how Fakhar and Ali should approach the final, Afridi suggested, “If Fakhar gets out early, Azhar should take the charge and focus on minimizing the dot balls, Pakistani batsmen need to remember that strike-rotation is as important as hitting boundaries in an ODI.”

However, the 37-year-old also opined that the Shoaib Malik and Mohammad Hafeez will need to come good if Pakistan are to get the better of India in the final. Malik in particular, has had an underwhelming tournament so far but Afridi has said that he will need to come good on the ‘biggest stage of them all’.

“As I have said earlier, Pakistan’s seniors Shoaib Malik and Mohammad Hafeez need to come to the party for the big game, both these players have contributed in many wins and Sunday is the time for them to deliver once again on the biggest stage of all.”

“Hafeez’s cameo against England will hold him in good stead for the final. Malik has had a quiet tournament by his standards but I expect him to come good on the big occasion. We all need to back the seniors which will help them focus and help the youngsters in the team who might have some nerves or stage fright on Sunday.”

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