Karachi: Pakistan's experienced opener, Ahmed Shehzad has squashed speculations of 'groupism' in the team, saying he didn't under-perform deliberately during the World T20 match against New Zealand to undermine skipper Shahid Afridi.
Soon after Pakistan's defeat to New Zealand, social media networks and some former players and government ministers floated allegations that Shehzad along with Umar Akmal and Shoaib Malik had deliberately batted slowly in the run-chase.
Photographs of these players were posted on some social networks blaming them for groupism and conspiring against Afridi.
To make matters worse, the federal minister for power, Abid Sher Ali also claimed that there was groupism and politics within the team and it was time to unmask such players and sack them permanently from Pakistan cricket.
These allegations and conspiracy theories have apparently got through to the trio as Malik also at his media conference in Mohali on Thursday insisted they wanted to win the match against Australia on Friday as a fitting farewell for Afridi.
Malik went to great pains to explain that Afridi was like a brother and there was nothing more he would like to see than the captain win the World T20. Shehzad said that after reciting the Kalma he swears he tried his best to secure victory.
Shehzad told The Jang newspaper that they were no groupism in the team and they all played like a team.
"If we lost we are all responsible and if we win it will be a collective credit for us," he said. Shehzad said he had tried his best to get runs but fate had something else in store for him.
"Afridi is like my elder brother and I cannot even imagine betraying my country which is our mother. I cannot think of doing anything wrong," an emotional Shehzad said.
"Believe me since we lost the match I couldn't eat properly. The tournament is not over for us but unfortunately the media and some people are spreading irresponsible rumors about groupism in the team. As a human being you can give your best and try but not always are you successful," he said.
The rumours about groupism in the team or a silent revolt against Afridi is not unexpected since Pakistan cricket has a history of revolts and dressing room intrigues. Afridi himself in the past years has been blamed for being part of revolts against other captains including Malik.
The Pakistan media has also reported that in the team meeting after the New Zealand match, Afridi and head coach Waqar Younis had told the players that Friday's match could be their last for Pakistan.