Afridi missing regular India battles, IPL
Before the Pakistan practice session, Shahid Afridi agrees for a quick chat, but then asks to wait till he reads the namaaz. Done with the afternoon ritual, he walks over chest out, the pride of having carried his team to the Asia Cup final evident.
Afridi raided the Sher-e-Bangla stadium on Sunday and Tuesday nights against India and Bangladesh respectively. It was his attack of the Indian bowlers that laid the base for his assault that followed against Bangladesh.
The 34-year-old took a deep breath and recalled the first star turn against India - the arch-rivals. "It's important I could perform when my team needed the most. Against India, the team that performs the best on the day wins," Afridi says. "We always have close games. Even the fans enjoy such games where you can't predict the winner."
But with the contests between the two teams becoming rare, such thrillers are hard to find. "We should definitely play more often. Pakistan has always supported India and even toured there when we've had threats. I think only cricket can improve the relations between the two countries," he pauses.
"I have not enjoyed playing cricket anywhere as much as I have in India. We are neighbours and our relations must be better, something cricket can help with. You should ask the Indian government about us not playing the IPL too."
The mercurial all-rounder, who is confident of overcoming a groin injury he picked up against Bangladesh to be fit for the final, explained his mantra to success. "I don't think much before I go in to bat. There's always pressure," he smiled.
"The day I feel I'm a burden to the team I will quit. I may not always bat well but try and work hard on my bowling. Right now, the 2015 World Cup is a big target."