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Afridi says sorry to Pakistan, but praises team

cricket Updated: Mar 31, 2011 10:03 IST

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Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi on Wednesday apologised to his nation for losing the World Cup semifinal to arch-rivals India but praised his team for playing beyond expectations in the tournament.

Afridi also congratulated India for reaching their third World Cup final.

"I would like to congratulate the Indian team and the whole (Indian) nation for this victory. I wish them all the best for the final," Afridi said after the match.

"At the same time, I want to say sorry to my nation. We tried our level best but couldn't make it. I am pleased with the way my team played throughout the competition."

Asked if he fears a backlash from the fans back home, Afridi said, "This time no one expected us to make the semifinal. I do not fear any negative reaction from the fans. They are the ones who cheer us and if they criticise us I think we have to take it in our stride".

"I am proud of my team. The guys have done a great job and the youngsters have stood out. Winning and losing is a part of the game. We played beyond expectations and I think we should be proud of it," he said.

The skipper thanked the board and the team management for helping him build a team that finally made the semifinals after going through some harrowing times in the past 10 months.

"We went through a bad phase in the last 10 months. But the way we built the team to make our way to the semifinals was commendable. I am thankful to the team management and the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) for helping us raise this talented team," he said.

Afridi said that seniors needed to perform in the tournament.

"We needed some more performances from seniors. They, however, could not but I think they have also realised it," he said.

Pakistan restricted India to 260 after they were off to a fantastic start.

Afridi attributed the loss to the lack of good partnerships as well as some irresponsible shots played by the batsmen.

"Wahab (Riaz) bowled really well but we missed some opportunities with the bat. There were no partnerships and we played some irresponsible shots. Overall, India were the better side today."

On retiring fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar, Afridi said, "We wanted to play him. But this was a crucial match and we couldn't have risked a player who is 50-60% fit. That's why we went for Wahab Riaz and his performance was for everybody to see."

Afridi said that both India and Sri Lanka are a balanced side and any team can win the final.