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Pakistan players should aim to surpass Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers, advises Shahid Afridi

Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers
Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers set the benchmark for modern batsmanship

What’s the story?

Flamboyant all-rounder Shahid Afridi has asked the Pakistani players to compete with the game’s global stars like Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers. The 36-year old attributed Pakistan’s dismal showing Down Under (losing five Tests on the trot in New Zealand and Australia) to the substandard pitches found in domestic cricket.

“I am not surprised that Pakistan played like this. If you play your domestic cricket on such pitches, you can win in Dubai and Abu Dhabi but not in Australia and New Zealand,” Afridi said in a gathering organised by Jang Group of Companies in Karachi.

He added, “I think things will improve. Players are coming. But it is not the kind of talent which would come in the past. It is all about approach. Our players are content with competitions among themselves. They should aim to surpass world-class players like Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers.”

In case you didn’t know...

At the end of November, Pakistan’s current head coach Mickey Arthur had made a bold statement by comparing Babar Azam with Kohli. Since then, the 22-year old has struggled to make a mark with only 68 runs (at an average of 11.33) coming from his blade in the 3-Test series against Australia.

Kohli and de Villiers are among the premier batsmen in the modern game. Their capability to switch between formats without any fuss makes them stand out from the rest. Pakistan are struggling to find such batsmen who can play all three formats with consummate ease.

The heart of the matter

Having made his international debut way back in 1996, Afridi’s eventful career has traversed across multiple eras. From playing alongside Wasim Akram and Inzamam-ul-Haq to featuring in a team comprising of youngsters like Ahmed Shehzad and Umar Akmal, the leg-spinner is well aware of the quality of domestic cricket. He even turned out in the Departmental One-Day Cup final a few days back.

Despite Pakistan falling into a major rut across all formats, the hard-hitter warned against making wholesale changes and reiterated the importance of giving confidence to the current lot. He also expressed hope that the team can still turn their fortunes around when the ODI series begins.

What next?

Pakistan have an even bigger test awaiting them in the ODI series against Australia. With the hosts selecting a full-strength squad, Azhar Ali’s team face a seemingly insurmountable challenge. Meanwhile, those knocking on the doors of the national team will be eager to showcase their potential in the 2017 Pakistan Super League (PSL) which begins on February 9th.

Sportskeeda’s take

While comparisons with the very best in the business are quite natural, Pakistani players often seem to get burdened by the extra pressure. Hence, it might be more prudent to allow the up and coming cricketers to focus on their own game instead. As for domestic pitches hampering their development, Afridi does have a point. Whether PCB pays heed will be an entirely different matter.

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Edited by Staff Editor
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