LAHORE   -   Former Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi says the side have injected the right amount of experience into their World Cup squad with the late inclusions of pacemen Wahab Riaz and Mohammed Amir, and have no excuse for poor performance now.

Riaz’s hostile spell to Australian Shane Watson was one of the highlights of the 2015 World Cup, but the 33-year-old has not played a one-day international since June 2017. Fellow left-arm quick bowler Amir was also initially omitted from Pakistan’s World Cup squad before being pencilled in on Monday.

“I think this team has the right combination,” Afridi said in a video posted on the Pakistan Cricket Board’s Twitter feed on Thursday. “The best thing is (that) batting used to be a constant worry for us but our batsmen are now in good form,” the former all-rounder said.

Pakistan posted 340-plus scores in three of the four completed matches in this month’s ODI series in England, even though the hosts prevailed 4-0. In March they had been thrashed 5-0 by Australia in the United Arab Emirates.

“We did quite a few experiments with the side. We rested the seniors in the series against Australia, giving chance to youngsters,” Afridi said. “Our bowling struggled before the World Cup I think because they lacked experience there. Now Wahab Riaz, (leg-spinner) Shadab Khan and Mohammad Amir are back and it’s a well-balanced team. We should not have any excuse now.” Consistency has never been the strong point of an otherwise talented team, but Afridi reckoned a good start could take the 1992 champions all the way to the June 14 final at the Lord’s. “It’s very important to win the first couple of matches to build a momentum ... Our youngsters are capable of beating any team in the world.”

 “I see Pakistan as one of the teams in the semi-finals and, God willing, I’m confident they’ll play the final too ... Pressure is inevitable in international cricket. It tests a player and his mental strength. But World Cup is also a great opportunity to become a hero with the whole world looking at you.”

PCB signs two-year partnership with Shahid Afridi Foundation

Meanwhile, the PCB extended the scope of its Corporate Social Responsibility when they signed a two-year partnership with Shahid Afridi Foundation (SAF), one of the most respected and prestigious charity organisations set up by an ex-player.

This follows the recent announcement of the PCB signing a three-year partnership with the British Asian Trust to shine a light on the issue of mental health in Pakistan. The partnership with SAF will cover non-ICC events, meaning the home series against Sri Lanka will be first series when the SAF logo will feature prominently on the player kits.

The SAF was founded in 2014 with a view of improving living conditions of poor and destitute members of the society. SAF is aiming to scale up its SAF Schools – education initiative across Pakistan to address the grassroot issues in Pakistan under “SAF Vision 2020”. This initiative has a special focus on Girls Education.

Shahid Afridi, Global Chairman, Shahid Afridi Foundation, said: “I am incredibly pleased and happy to partner my former employers as we continue to take giants steps forward, this time in the field of improving and enhancing quality of lives of the Pakistanis and creating more facilities in our beloved country. I feel honored that the PCB felt my foundation worthy of their association.”

Wasim Khan, Managing Director, Pakistan Cricket Board, said: “The PCB is delighted to continue to play their part in the progress, growth and development of the under-privileged citizens of Pakistan, this time through a partnership with the Shahid Afridi Foundation. Shahid Afridi Foundation has done tremendous work in Pakistan in various walks of life, including education and health, and the PCB looks forward to accelerating that work by using their brand and creating more awareness within the society.”