Twist in the tale: Shahid Afridi steps down as Pakistan T20 captain; says he intends to continue playing

Karachi: Facing criticism for Pakistan's dismal show in the ICC World Twenty20, Shahid Afridi on Sunday stepped down as captain of the team but said he intends to continue playing in the shortest format of the game. Afridi made the announcement in a press release which he tweeted on Sunday afternoon.

During the ongoing World T20, the 36-year-old had dropped a hint that he would retire from international cricket. However, in the statement, he said that he intended to play on in the shortest format of the game for the country.

Pakistan managed to win just one out of their four matches in World T20 and finished second from the bottom in their group, above Bangladesh. Following their dismal campaign, Afridi's captaincy came under a lot of criticism.

After the loss to New Zealand in World T20, Afridi had dropped a hint that he would retire at the end of the campaign.

"That (the match against Australia) could be my last," Afridi said at the post-match presentation ceremony.

Then, as one would expect with Afridi, there was a u-turn as he announced after the Australia defeat that he had not made a final decision to call it quits.

"I'm going to go back home and in the next four-five days I will take a decision and whatever is better for the country, I will go with that. I think I will announce this in my country," the 36-year-old told reporters.

However, he did concede that he wasn't fit to lead Pakistan.

"As a player I'm fine but as a captain I'm not fit because it's not easy to handle the pressure, especially if you are playing for Pakistan... the expectation pressure, the media pressure, everything."

The Afridi-led Pakistan failed make it to the semifinals of the World Twenty20 in India, where his comments also drew the ire of former players.

The 36-year-old all-rounder and the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) had hinted that World T20 could well be be his last as skipper.

File picture of Shahid Afridi. Getty

File picture of Shahid Afridi. Getty

"Today, I wish to inform my fans in Pakistan and all over the world that I am relinquishing the captaincy of the T20 Pakistani team of my own volition," Afridi said in a statement, released on his twitter account.

"On this day, I thank Allah (SWT) for His Kindness and Mercy which enabled me to discharge my leadership duties, to the best of my abilities for the sake of honour and prestige of my motherland. For me it was a great honour to lead my country in all three formats of the game," Afridi wrote in his statement.

Afridi, however, asserted that he will be available for selection as a player in the team even though PCB Chairman Shaharyar Khan has made it clear that the all-rounder is no longer a surety in the side.

"My profound thanks to the PCB and its Chairman Shaharyar Khan who gave me the honour to lead the national team. I would also like to inform that InshaAllah I intend to continue to play the game for my country and league cricket etc. and request my fans for kindly keep praying and supporting for my best future performances for Pakistan (as a player); and in all other arenas of the game, world over."

The mercurial cricketer played 27 Tests for Pakistan before retiring from the format in 2010 with 1716 runs and 48 wickets.

In 398 ODIs, he has 8064 runs and 395 wickets, while 98 T20 International appearances have fetched him 1405 runs and 97 wickets.

Afridi found himself mired in controversies during Pakistan's World T20 campaign. First, he drew flak in Pakistan for stating that he and his players were loved more in India than back home.

Later, Pakistan lost three of their four group stage games, including a high-voltage clash against arch-foes India, to bow out of the tournament.

Amid the dismal on-field run, Afridi stirred up another controversy by specifically thanking Kashmiris for cheering his team in Mohali.

The remark was criticised by the BCCI with Board Secretary Anurag Thakur saying that the cricketer should avoid making political statements.

Post the World T20 debacle, Afridi had sought forgiveness from the people of his country for failing to live upto their expectations.

"I don't care what other people say about me but I am answerable to you (people of Pakistan). I, Shahid Afridi, seeks forgiveness from the people of Pakistan for not living upto the expectations that you had from this team and me," Afridi had said in a brief video message on his Twitter page.

Afridi received intense criticism for his performance and captaincy post World T20. Coach Waqar Younis accused him of being non-serious throughout the Asia Cup and World T20 campaigns in a report to the PCB which was leaked to the media.

A day after, Afridi apologised to Pakistan people for failing to live up to their expectations in World T20.

"I don't care what other people say about me, but I am answerable to you (people of Pakistan). Today, I, Shahid Afridi, seek forgiveness from the people of Pakistan for not living up to the expectations that you had from this team and me," Afridi said in a brief video message on his official Twitter page.

"For 20 years I have played this game and I have carried the star on my chest for 20 years. I enter the field with the emotions of the whole country with me. This team was not just a team of 11, it was a team of my whole country," he said.

But a couple of days ago, another report emerged where the Pakistan team manager had submitted a report to the PCB heavily criticising Afridi's captaincy in World T20 and labeling him as 'absolutely clueless' captain.

It will be interesting to see whether Afridi finds a place in the national side after stepping down as his performance as a player has been under the scanner too.

The mercurial all-rounder has played 27 Tests for Pakistan before retiring from the format in 2010 with 1,716 runs and 48 wickets.

In 398 ODIs, he has 8064 runs and 395 wickets, while 98 T20 International appearances have fetched him 1405 runs and 97 wickets.

With inputs from PTI


Published Date: Apr 03, 2016 06:41 pm | Updated Date: Apr 03, 2016 07:07 pm

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