Shoaib: Afridi is like my elder brother

On the eve of Pakistan's World T20 match against Australia at the PCA Stadium here, Malik denied he led any coup against Shahid Afridi in order to get captaincy.

Pakistan's Shoaib Malik addresses a press conference in Mohali on Thursday,   -  THE HINDU

Seasoned Pakistani batsman Shoaib Malik defended himself and his team as solidly as he could, dismissing speculation of him promoting factionalism in the side in order to get captaincy.

On the eve of Pakistan's World T20 match against Australia at the PCA Stadium here, Malik denied he led any coup against captain Shahid Afridi.

“This is the same Shoaib Malik who gave up PSL captaincy, the same Shoaib Malik who quit Test cricket for youngsters. Everybody knows this is Lala's (Afridi's) last World Cup. I respect him like I respect Inzamam bhai, Waqar bhai, Wasim bhai. He is like an elder brother. I have learned a lot from him. Nobody will be happier than me if Pakistan wins this world cup for him. When you lose, these things come out; they are baseless and useless. The team is one,” said Malik on Thursday.

Claiming that the speculation surrounding Pakistan only adversely affected the team's performance, Malik said, “Even if you keep Pakistan aside, there have been close matches. We are ending up on the wrong side. Of course, it is our responsibility to give our best.

“We have shown glimpses, but consistency is one thing we are lacking. We will have to work on that.”

Australian captain Steve Smith said his side was yet to perform to its potential. “But I think that's good in a tournament. You want to play your best cricket at the back-end of the tournament. We are close.”

Smith found similarities between the PCA Stadium and the Melbourne Cricket Ground and hoped it might suit Australia. “It is about hitting the gaps and getting lots of twos. It might not be about clearing the fence because it's such a big hit. We got a few plans in place and the guys will just have to adapt.”

Smith said Australia was focused on winning its remaining matches. “I think it has made the equation pretty simple for us. We have to win our next two games. I think India and Pakistan are very tough opponents and we have to be at our best to beat them. We have to win our next four games if we have to win the World Cup.”