Shahid Afridi has expressed relief after playing a key role with both bat and ball in Pakistan's win against Bangladesh in the Asia Cup final. Afridi scored a critical 32 runs when Pakistan were in trouble and then bowled his 10 overs for just 28 runs to stifle Bangladesh's batsmen.
"It lifted a lot of pressure off my shoulders but more importantly it helped Pakistan win the title," Afridi told Pakistani daily the News.
Before the final, Afridi had only managed two wickets in the Asia Cup, against Bangladesh, having failed to make an impression against India and Sri Lanka. He had similar problems against England in the UAE where he took three wickets in four ODIs. His poor batting form has not helped either, with only one score above 50 in his previous 11 innings. Consequently, he has attracted criticism. Prior to the present slump, Afridi had picked up 23 scalps in nine games against Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Afghanistan.
"To my critics, I will say just one thing: haven't you heard of players going through a lean patch?" Afridi said. "It happens to even the greatest sportsmen then why is that I cannot be spared during my bad patch?"
Questions have been asked about his fitness in the media. However, Afridi refuted such doubts by saying that he has been fortunate to be injury-free for most of his playing career. "I'm fully fit at the moment and plan to continue working hard to make sure that I give my 100% for Pakistan each time I represent the country."
He said he would quit one-day internationals the day he was not able to give his best to the national side and concentrate on Twenty20 cricket. This season, Afridi has played Twenty20 matches for local franchises in Australia and in Bangladesh. However, he has opted out of the ongoing Faysal Bank Super Eight Twenty20 Cup in which he represented Karachi Dolphins for the past six seasons.