Team India’s vice-captain KL Rahul has stated that Shaheen Afridi’s presence in Pakistan's playing XI for the Asia Cup 2022 match on Sunday (August 28) would have been a good experience for the Men in Blue.
Afridi, Pakistan’s lead pacer across formats, has been ruled out of the Asia Cup due to a knee injury. His absence is significant since he was the Player of the Match when the teams clashed during the T20 World Cup last year.
Asked for his views on the dangerous Pakistan left-arm pacer’s unavailability, Rahul said at a press conference:
“Our mindset was that we play a quality bowler. I’ve see how Shaheen Shah Afridi has performed in the last two years. He is a world-class bowler, he is a quality bowler. Left-arm seamers right now in world cricket are the most dangerous and they are causing problems for batters.
"If he would have played, it would have been a good experience for us. Unfortunately, he is injured.”
Incidentally, on Thursday (August 25), a few members of the Indian team, including Rahul, met the injured pacer and shared their best wishes for his speedy recovery. Asked about the interaction, which went viral on social media, the 30-year-old explained:
“As players, we have always battled injuries. For 2-3 months, I myself have been in the academy (NCA). It is a very frustrating time as a player the pain you go through, the frustration of missing games. Even he would have wanted to play this India-Pakistan game. You share a little bit of concern and experience. There was nothing more to it.”
Afridi registered figures of three for 31 in the T20 World Cup 2021 clash against India in Dubai. He dismissed Rohit Sharma, Rahul and Virat Kohli to break the back of India’s batting. Pakistan went on to thump the Men in Blue by 10 wickets.
“You want to prepare for it” - KL Rahul on the toss factor
During the T20 World Cup in the UAE last year, the organizers came in for a lot of criticism as the toss had a massive impact on the results of the game.
Asked how India have prepared themselves to face challenging situations, Rahul replied:
“In big tournaments, if the toss does play such a big part, then that is what it is. You understand it as teams and you want to prepare for it. After the World Cup, we have challenged ourselves as a team to win the toss and bat first and put ourselves in those situations, where we prepare ourselves for big tournaments like this or the World Cup."
India lost the toss in the first two matches of the T20 World Cup 2021 against Pakistan and New Zealand. They were sent into bat and ended up losing both games, which eventually led to their exit from the event.
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