Thatscricket - ODI Series - India~~s tour of Pakistan- Afridi thrilled at playing for Pak again

Published: Monday, March 29, 2004, 20:17 [IST]
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Lahore:Pakistan's dashing all-rounder Shahid Afridi on Sunday said he was very exited to once again play for his country and the joy was doubled with the fact that he was picked to play against India.

"I am thrilled at the prospect of playing for Pakistan again because I was the only one who was not given a chance after the World Cup and my joy is doubled when I think I am going to play against India," Afridi said.

The 24-year-old feels that an encounter against India was very different, as every player wants to give his best.

"Playing against India puts double pressure on a player and the body language of the players is not normal because everyone wants to give his best. It is a huge challenge for us but we are up to it." The record holder for the fastest century in One-day Internationals, of just 37 balls against Sri Lanka at Nairobi, Kenya in 1997, Afridi, was recalled to the Pakistan squad for the first two matches of the five-match One-day series.

The first match is in Afridi's adopted hometown of Karachi, where he started playing cricket and was selected for the national team on default. Sent as a replacement for injured leg-spinner Mushtaq Ahmed, Afridi was promoted as opener in his second match and he rewrote the record books with the sensational knock.

Tagged as fluke he was chided by every coach and captain for his batting that was mostly termed as irresponsible.

Afridi lost his place after a flop World Cup in which he was fined by the Pakistan Cricket Board for abusing Indian opener Virender Sehwag.

"It was a tough last year for me but I have matured and my batting has improved by playing in South Africa for Griqualand because the pitches there are similar in nature but have more bounce," said Afridi, recalling the period when he was out of the national squad.

Born in the Khyber Agency in the Northwest tribal area, Afridi considers his match-winning 142 against India at Chennai on Pakistan's last tour to India in 1998-99 as one of his memorable innings.

"That was the most enjoyable innings of my career because the team needed me to stay and I had to avoid any rash strokes and then captain Wasim Akram and coach Javed Miandad goaded me to play that innings," said Afridi, who has played 14 Tests and 176 One-day matches for his country.

Leicestershire recruited him in 2001 and Derbyshire availed his services in the half season last year.

Afridi was also approached by a few Indian film directors but he preferred cricket fields rather than the studios.

"I like Indian films but working in films is not my cup of tea," he said.

Afridi's all time favourite movie is 'Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge' and his favourite actors are Dilip Kumar, Amitabh Bachhan and Shah Rukh Khan but he did not name any actress.

"I need the good wishes of my fans and I have plenty of them in India as well because every time I go to India I am looked after very very well," he said.

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