World T20: Boom or bust for Pakistan
Men in Green want to win the World Cup for Afridi but they have to first beat Australia today or go home.
Veteran batsman Shoaib Malik vowed on Thursday that Pakistan would go all out for a surprise victory against Australia at cricket's World Twenty20 to give their "big brother" Shahid Afridi a winning send-off.
The big-hitting Afridi, who no longer plays Test and one-day cricket, has been hinting heavily that he will retire after the ongoing tournament after being heavily criticised for Pakistan's disappointing showing.
A veteran of 97 T20 internationals, Afridi has scored 1,391 runs while taking 97 wickets. While his batting pyrotechnics once earned him the nickname "Boom Boom", Afridi has endured a torrid time at the crease in the last couple of years, prompting critics to question his match-winning abilities.
In the ongoing WT20, Afridi hit a match-winning 19-ball 49 and also took two key wickets in the opening group match against lowly Bangladesh.
But he made just eight and 19 in the defeats against India and New Zealand and drew widespread criticism for some of his team selections.
However, Malik came to his captain's defence. "This is going to be Afridi's last World Cup. I respect him a lot, he is like an elder brother to me," Malik said at the pre-match press conference. "Nobody will be happier than me if we can win this World Cup for Afridi.
"Every player is trying to give their 100 percent. Winning or losing is not in our hands, but each one of us is taking responsibility and trying to give our best," he said.
Malik, 34, also stressed the team was looking at plugging the loopholes against Australia, who have one win and a loss from two outings so far.
A win is the least that Pakistan require to keep their slim chances of advancing in the tournament alive. Malik also sought to dismiss talk of friction within the Pakistani dressing room, blaming the team's poor performance for the speculation. Malik said the team has the talent but lacks consistency. Despite the on and off-field troubles, he asserted that the side is looking to win against Australia to have any chance of making the semis.
"Nobody talked about rift in our camp in 2009 when we won the World T20. Six of us were not talking to each other, we still won.
"When you lose games, all the talk starts."
On the other hand a stumbling Australia will need to raise their game.
The reigning 50-over world champions have appeared tentative at best, going down to New Zealand in their opening encounter and sweating for a win against the Tigers.
"We haven't been good enough in the middle overs. We made it difficult at the end," captain Steven Smith admitted after the game against Bangladesh. "Pakistan and India play well in these conditions and we have to do better. Our players have to adapt better," he said.