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Afridi backs the Akmals

cricket Updated: Mar 13, 2011 17:01 IST
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Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi continued to back the under fire Akmal brothers, insisting that, both, Kamran and Umar would be part of the playing XI for the Group A World Cup match against Zimbabwe in Pallekele on Monday.

Kamran has been struggling as wicketkeeper and dropped crucial catches during Pakistan's 110-run loss to New Zealand in their previous group match.

There were calls to drop Kamran, but his only possible replacement, Umar ended up hurting his finger in a practice session, leading to a bit of off field drama, as well over whether the injury was genuine.

Afridi said Umar has recovered and both the brothers will play tomorrow. "He (Umar) is fit, it is a light injury. He fielded today and looked better, so definitely he will play tomorrow," said Afridi.

"Kamran's performance in batting hasn't been bad but, yes, he is struggling with his keeping. He is working very hard, and we haven't got such an option in the squad to whom we can give a chance in this tournament. Kamran has been working hard for four days. He has support and our confidence, he seems a better choice. I think he knows the mistakes he has committed and he will try to cover it for sure and will perform," he added.

Asked how the mood in the dressing room was, Afridi said, "We are just focusing on day by day and game by game and if we win against Zimbabwe the dressing room atmosphere will be better and positive. A win always gives you confidence."

"At the moment our plan is not to lose wickets and be positive. I have already told them to play to your strengths, like you play in domestic cricket, play like that. Over the last couple of days the openers have worked really hard and the coaches have worked hard with them as well. The results will hopefully come and realising the importance of the match I am confident that they will perform," said Afridi.