Pakistan's T20 captain Shahid Afridi wants cricket to be kept away from politics as his side gets ready to take on Bangladesh in their opening game of the ICC 2016 T20 World Cup. Speaking to the media on the team's arrival in India, Afridi aired his views on the India-Pakistan game to be played on 19 March, Pakistan's chances in the World Cup and about the criticism he has faced over his form from both the media and former players.
"I feel cricket should be kept away from politics. Cricket is something that has brought people together and personally I have received a lot of warmth and affection whenever I have played in India. People love cricket here and it is the same in Pakistan. The love we have received here in India is sometimes more than what we get in Pakistan. We have to follow whatever decision our government takes but I feel it is better that we keep cricket away from the intricacies of politics", he was quoted as saying by The Hindu daily.
"I feel we are not playing according to the team plans. The recent Asia Cup experience has given us a lesson on that. But I do not think we should be living in the past. Once we start playing according to the team plan we will do well. "
Afridi also said the team have very good memories of Eden Gardens. "We will be playing two matches here so we are confident," he said.
"If you play for 20 years, you will see ups and downs. I have performed and answered my critics. As a captain I have given a lot of chance to the players. In a big event like this the senior players take the pressure, be it myself, Shoaib Malik or Mohammad Hafeez. I will also look to contribute up the order in the batting if required."
Pakistan's clash with India on 19 March was scheduled to take place in Dharamshala in the state of Himachal Pradesh. However, protests and security concerns caused the game to be shifted to the Eden Gardens in Kolkata.
The Men In Green are drawn in Group 2 of the main draw, along with India, New Zealand, Australia and Bangladesh. The top two teams qualify for the semifinal.