MOHALI, India, (Reuters) – Vanquished captain Shahid Afridi expects a mature reaction from fans in Pakistan when their team return after going down to arch-rivals India in the World Cup semi-final yesterday.
“In my opinion we have played better than 2003 and 2007 when our teams were much better. Nobody was expecting anything from this team. I am proud of this team,” Afridi told reporters.
The 1992 champions have been unable to play international matches at home since the 2009 armed attack on the Sri Lanka cricketers in Lahore and the recent spot-fixing scandal has raised serious doubts about their players’ integrity. The scandal robbed them of the services of Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir and, understandably, few were prepared to bet on Pakistan winning the showpiece event for a second time.
“I think people have realised that we have put in our full effort. We have won six out of eight matches which is a big achievement,” Afridi said.
“We have confidence (in our fans). Our country has backed us so much. People who love you so much can criticise you as well. It’s not a big deal.”
Afridi’s counterpart Mahendra Singh Dhoni recalled the fans’ ire when they stoned the cricketers’ houses after India’s first-round exit in the 2007 World Cup. Dhoni said those were the moments when support really mattered.“We are here to entertain. We have always given our best whether it was the 2007 World Cup or the 2011,” he said.
“We don’t really like losing and always give our best. We always need the support, especially when we are not doing well.
“We know when we are doing well, the whole of India is with us. But it’s moments like the 2007 World Cup when you really need the kind of support to boost the players.
“I still remember it took me over a month to get out of that kind of depression.”